Mad Mint

This mint plant has had some ups and downs since I got it last year. It is the plant in my collection that is most likely not to cope with being neglected; its leaves just dying off when it is under-watered. But it is springs back gallantly when given the chance. I bought it in Ceres, in Fife, from a stall raising money for the local church (if I remember rightly) and what was quaint was that I paid for it (the princely sum of 50p) by posting the coin down a pipe into someone’s garden. Below are two views of the same plant.

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String of Hearts

Nothing much to say about this lovely plant except that it was a gift from a kind colleague. It doesn’t live all rolled up like this – it usually snakes along a string of lights and I have hopes it will continue to thrive so I can train it across some pictures further along the wall. Its Latin name is ceropegia woodii, but I think string of hearts is so much more evocative.

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My aloe mitriformis and her babies

Twenty years ago I was a youth leader in our church’s youth group and apparently, I once did a talk in which I said you should always have a plant in your house and I think I must have given everybody there a plant. Years later, someone who was there gave me a plant, a child or grandchild, I think, of that original plant. These are great plants because every so often they produce babies which root relatively easily and off you go with another plant. I have that original plant, four babies planted and three being rooted in water. They are very robust and resilient, too.
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My Busy Lizzies

I love Busy Lizzies (impatiens) – easy to grow, communicative about their needs (they droop when they need water) but not needy (they perk up quickly), with pretty pink, red, orange and white flowers. What’s not to love? Well, the fact that they are terribly prone to greenfly, more than any other plant I have in my flat. My solution (literally) is to wash them in a mixture of water and washing up liquid but they don’t like it, coming out of the process like sheep that have been dipped. In the past I have had to throw plants away rather than risk an infestation of all my plants. The three smaller plants are probably all cuttings from the big one, which I grew from seed last year. They have all come through being washed and so far so good. I am hopeful they will flower (pink) again. Top tip: pinch out the fresh growth to make the plant sturdier (there is probably a sermon illustration there but I can’t quite see it).

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My Christmas Cactus

Nobody ever mentions that one of the sacrifices of the missionary life is leaving your lovingly-tended houseplants behind in the care of kind friends. Twelve years later, back in my Edinburgh flat, I had to re-start my plant collection by scrounging cuttings from the same kind friends. In the best of cases, I was able to get cuttings from a plant that had originally been mine and that had flourished mightily in my absence. Such was the case of my Christmas cactus, now in flower.

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What took me so long?

After a year, I blog again, and almost four and half years after I left Colombia, I finally managed to get rid of these notebooks.

These were not my journals (which are still very much in my possession) but were for every day, with lists of things to do, people’s details, notes for talks, shopping lists, costs of things. Truth be told, I could have got rid of them in before I left the country!

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Scarcity and plenty

I have been thinking recently about an experience I had during my first trip to the Colombian Atlantic Coast. I was with a team of people building latrines with a displaced community. I was notionally in charge and one of my tasks was to agree the budget for food.

We started off catering for ourselves, about 12 people, the local people that were being employed and the local cooks. Day after day, I was asked if it was OK to allow others to join the meal (other local helpers and the children of the cooks) until we were feeding two or three times as many people as we had budgeted for.

And so I learned an important Kingdom principle: if you decide to share, you will always have enough.

Let the British reader understand.

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A Minor Scandal

Last week I donated some clothes to a charity shop and knowing how things are these days, I phoned beforehand to check they would receive them. I was told they could take clothes but no books, DVDs, CDs or electrical items. That suited me fine.

I chit chatted with the helpful young man as I handed my little bag over and he told me that that very morning, he had arrived at work find 73 bags outside his shop. He is not allowed to process bags dumped out of hours and so those 73 bags went off to be landfill. The charity has had to pay thousands of pounds to have rubbish uplifted because people are basically emptying their cupboards and drawers into plastic bags with the idea that the charity shop will sort through it for them.

On the up side, they are selling five books for a pound these days, so I am using them as a kind of library while I wait for mine to reopen.

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