Posted in Personal life

The Healing Power of Houseplants

In this month’s issue of the Hawkesbury Parish News, I create my own indoor spring

In the middle of a grim January in which fog and frost have rendered the local Cotswold landscape monotone, I crave the sight of colour. I know that even just looking at greenery is scientifically proven to offer mental health benefits, but I’m unable to buy any from shops as they’re not essential foodstuffs. So I ask on the local Facebook Second-to-None group whether anyone has spare houseplants in need of a good home, ie mine.

Immediately a flurry of kind offers pops up, including some plants rumoured to be unkillable.

By all accounts, the spider plants and aloe veras are likely to outlive me. I must remember to provide for them in my will.

Further investigation shows that house plants can serve other functions besides lifting your spirits, such as clearing toxins from indoor air. No less than NASA has run tests of three common houseplants to see which was best at removing formaldehyde, with spider plants emerging the clear winner.

Indoor pollution prevention in a plant pot should be handy on the International Space Station, not to mention making the place feel more homely.

Apparently certain palms, ferns, peace lilies, ivy and rubber plants are even better at extracting chemical vapours indoors, although I’m not sure what they do with them once they’ve collected them. Interior design specialists credit houseplants with reducing headaches, sore throats and other minor ailments in the workplace and the home.

Aloe vera is another plant no home should be without. Keep one by the cooker as a first aid measure and apply the juice of a leaf to burns to speed healing. Aloe vera is also anti-inflammatory, promotes circulation, and inhibits the growth of bacteria. A multi-million-dollar industry, Forever Living, has been built on aloe-vera-based products.

According to Marina Pogose, aloe vera “grows like the devil”, so I’m guessing the company never runs out of stock.

A few days after I’ve distributed my new houseplants about my home, I visit my GPs’ surgery for my annual health MOT, where I’m startled to learn that I weigh the same as I did at the start of the first lockdown and my blood pressure and pulse, which were healthy enough then, have actually improved. I’ve scarcely been out of doors for a year, and I’ve done very little physical exercise, so there can only be one reason that I’m doing so well now.

When I find out which of my new houseplants is responsible, I’ll let you know.

With grateful thanks to Chris, Jenny, Jill, Kate, Maia, Marina and Penny for all their kind offers of plants.


IN OTHER NEWS

To celebrate having lived in Hawkesbury Upton for thirty years, I’ve just published in paperback and as an ebook Still Charmed, my latest collection of columns for the Hawkesbury Parish News, written from 2016-2020 – an extraordinary period that saw huge change around the world. The book is available to buy online via the links below. 

 

Posted in Personal life, Writing

May Be Not…

My column for the May issue of the Hawkesbury Parish News

cover of May issue features photo of Debbie launching HULF
A strangely familiar face on the May front cover too…

After a hectic start to 2019, I was hoping my May diary would be blank.

Not that I’ve turned anti-social all of a sudden. But 1st May marks a major life-change for me, as on 30th April I leave my part-time day job in order to devote all my working hours to writing. The only diary dates I’d envisaged for May were self-imposed milestones for my next book.

The impartial observer might notice no difference in my behaviour. In my day job, I worked almost entirely from home, with the shortest commute possible (bedroom to study, five paces) and an office dress code of pyjamas.

Same applies from 1st May. I’ll still be sitting in the same chair, at the same desk, at the same computer, although I regularly change the pyjamas. But in my head, the difference will be enormous. I hope soon to have a new book out as evidence of my personal revolution.

Yet despite my best intentions, before April is out, there is already a flurry of events in my May diary: Dog Show, Plant Sale, Big Breakfast, HU5K. And that’s before the May issue of the Parish News falls on my doormat. (I scan every issue, diary in hand, as soon as it arrives, for fear of missing out – don’t you?)

Of course, living in a community as lively as Hawkesbury Upton, a blank diary could only be a figment of my imagination.

But imagination’s my long suit. After all, I do write fiction.


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Headshot of Debbie Young by Angela Fitch