On the train from Bonn to Trier

These wooded slopes are charming in their way,

but give me Blà Bheinn any day.

The castles, vineyards, little villages are, well…so German.

They make me feel, what I am, foreign.

Gorse and bracken, Scottish wind and rain.

Golspie, Dornoch, Brora, Tain.

There’s nothing wrong with here.

It’s just not…home.

Share this post:Facebooktwitterredditlinkedin

And the winner is…

Perhaps the most unassuming plant in my collection has the best story. Days before I left Colombia in 2018, I went out for coffee with my flatmate and some friends. A leaf had broken off one of the succulents on the table and I popped it in my handbag, thinking it could be potted up back at our flat. Then I completely forgot about it, packed the handbag and flew back to the UK. A few days later, I found the leaf in the handbag, put it in water and then compost and it grew into a huge plant. Cuttings went to friends and prospered there but the original plant died. Now I just have one leaf, taken from one of the friend’s cuttings – the grandchild of the leaf that travelled back with me from Colombia.

Share this post:Facebooktwitterredditlinkedin

In Second Place

Remember the orchid hospital? Two years ago I rescued about 18 orchids that had been abandoned on my neighbours’ balcony. I have since given some away and some have died, and now only five healthy plants remain. To my great joy, four of them show signs that they will flower in a month or two, the result, I am convinced, of beginning to steep them for 10 to 15 minutes in lukewarm water, advice for phalaenopsis (or moth) orchids that I read in a book (in Topping & Company Bookshop). This species is not indigenous to Colombia but thousands of other species of orchids are, and if you watch my little video (see above link), you will see why I associate orchids with my time in Medellín.

Share this post:Facebooktwitterredditlinkedin

In Third Place

Another cutting from a dear friend has grown into this wonderful waterfall of green that flows elegantly from atop my kitchen units. Cheating slightly here because it is not currently in bloom, but I wanted to give you an idea of what it looks like when its flowering – a cluster of pink and white blooms. It’s called hoya carnosa if you like knowing these sorts of things.

Share this post:Facebooktwitterredditlinkedin

Aloe Vera and her children

Another post-Colombia gift from a kind friend. I made a mistake once by putting it outside where it got terribly battered by the wind on my balcony but it has recovered well in my front room. Well enough for me have a couple of plants potted on, one in my flat and one in my office. And look at all those wonderful offshoots ready to be plants on their own!

Share this post:Facebooktwitterredditlinkedin

Angel Wing Begonias

These two magnificent plants started life, in my house, anyway, as one single leaf. I didn’t like the shape of the first plant – there was one shoot standing straight up – so I cut it back and actually threw out the piece I had cut off. Then I repented, and stuck the decapitated piece into earth, where it duly prospered. I don’t usually give my plants names, but these could be Bill and Ben, or Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Any other suggestions?

Share this post:Facebooktwitterredditlinkedin

The Lemon Geranium

Prone to get leggy without enough light, my lemon geranium seems to enjoy living on my bathroom window. It’s so-called because it gives off a delicate lemon scent when you rub the leaves. It also produces little purple flowers once in a blue moon.

Share this post:Facebooktwitterredditlinkedin

Another resilient succulent

This is a jade plant or crassula ovata. (A side-effect of this project is that I am learning the names of all my plants). I grew it from a tiny cutting from a venerable old plant at my previous employers. It lives in a shady corner of my bathroom and grows slowly and steadily. Like my string of hearts, it is a nice reminder of my lovely former colleagues.

Share this post:Facebooktwitterredditlinkedin

What have we here?

Look! Three seedlings growing in one of my Busy Lizzies. What could they be? I am hoping against hope that they could be seeds from a great wych elm felled by Storm Arwen. I was given them in June during a retreat at the Northumbria Community. Of four or five seeds, one actually germinated but did not thrive. In the end, I reused the compost. But did I reuse it to pot up this Busy Lizzie? I can’t be sure. Anyway, one is now in a pot on its own and I will let you know if it grows into a tree.

Share this post:Facebooktwitterredditlinkedin