According to gardensillustrated.com, the people of the UK bought 322 million more plants in 2020 than in 2019. A conservative estimate would show that I am personally responsible for about half of that.
Pre-lockdown (the first one!), I had a handful of plants that I pretty much ignored, besides from a brief mourning period before I binned them when they inevitably died. Now, I consider myself to be a fully-qualified plant parent. I can differentiate between a pothos and a philodendron at 20 paces. I buy cuttings from strangers on Instagram. My kitchen window ledge is now known as The Propagation Station: where I have plastic takeaway boxes filled with sphagnum moss and “wet sticks”. I was given a t-shirt for Christmas emblazoned with the moniker, “Crazy Plant Lady”.
But why am I a Crazy Plant Lady? Why did I invest so much time and energy in caring for almost 50 wee green friends through a dark, miserable, lonely, Scottish winter lockdown? Houseplants don’t do very much over winter. Sometimes I felt like I was taking care of pots of dirt. Last week something finally happened that made me almost cry with joy. My Monstera Deliciosa (aka naff 70s Swiss Cheese plant that’s having a major comeback) put out a new leaf! It’s a slow process– it’s been a full seven days and it’s still not fully emerged, never mind unfurled. But it is beautiful!
Winter was difficult for our guests, too. You may have seen the photo that did the rounds on social media of a queue of people in George Square, waiting in line for food in the snow and bitter cold. Some of our regular guests are struggling. We have met several new guests with complex needs, difficult living situations, and severe mental health problems.
But, like the leaf on my Monstera, like the snowdrops and daffodils starting to emerge in the park, new life is coming! We have witnessed the joy of family reunions for some of our International guests. One of the students in our Urban college classes was just granted Leave to Remain in the UK. A young man has applied to go to rehab. Three guests in one day were able to move into permanent accommodation.
Recently, a woman Linda has supported for a long time reminded her of a passage from Matthew:
“If God dresses grass in the fields so beautifully, even though it’s alive today and tomorrow it’s thrown into the furnace, won’t God do much more for you, you people of weak faith? Therefore, don’t worry and say, ‘What are we going to eat?’ or… ‘What are we going to wear?’…Your heavenly Father knows that you need them.”
This is why I love my plants. They are all dressed in the splendour of God’s creativity. The work I put in with be worth it as more new leaves appear and they outgrow their pots.
We trust God in this approaching new season. We look forward to the shoots of faith and new life bursting into bloom. We lean on our God, who knows all our needs, and we wait for spring.
Urban Coordinator, City Centre Project