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.