“You have too many plants”, they said. Unbeknownst to them, I counted on them more than one could imagine.
My love for plants started back in 2012 when my sister, Natures Girl, gifted me a ‘Crassula ovata’, also known as a ‘Jade Plant’ or a ‘Money Tree’. My first response was, “How do I care for it, I don’t want to kill it?”, little did I know it would be saving me.
With much guidance from my big sis, and many propagated cuttings later, my fingers started to turn green, and I found a new hobby; collecting plants. The years went by and my indoor gardening branched outdoors in the spring and summer months, growing everything from Apple Trees from seed, to Lavender flower beds, even making my own compost; I was a gardener. I loved the smell of the freshly cut grass, the feeling when all weeds were removed, but more importantly, it was the journey of growth that inspired me the most; no matter how long it takes. But living in the UK, unfortunately, this could only be a warm season hobby as I’m not a fan of the cold, and so, I continued gardening indoors. Bit-by-bit, I’d add new babies to my collection, Sansevierias (Snake Plants), Spathiphyllum (Peace Lilies), Zamioculcas, Epipremnum (Pothos), Monsteras, and this blog isn’t long enough to list them all. There was some type of connection between me and all of these plants, but I didn’t know what it was.
I’d had seasons where I’d spend hours watching YouTube tutorials about the best care conditions for them, how to propagate them, how to give them optimal environments to thrive and even started new projects such as the art of Bonsai; still to me, this was just a hobby. But, it became a very expensive one once I really got into the ‘plant world’, but it was a cost I was willing to pay. I still didn’t know why. Whether ordering online, going to garden centres, or plant-swapping with other plant lovers, my collection was growing and so were my plants. Not only this, I look back to where I started, just using any garden soil (mud) to now making my own compost mixes, I was growing too, in knowledge, experience and patience. It was like a friendship, a partnership, I look after you, you look after me, but I didn’t realise how much until this past year. But stay with me, we will get to today shortly. I have made it no secret that back in 2015, I crashed after the loss of my daughter. I had enough of everything, had hit rock bottom and fallen into the deepest depression that I had ever experienced (at that time) and decided to come offline. I spent the next four years disconnected, gardening, nurturing, pruning, dusting leaves, misting, fertilising, watering, and taking care of my plants. It felt good in the middle of my pain, in the middle of disconnection, I found connection. A little relief, and so I did more of it, purchased more, cared more, until I was out of the dark.
And now, this past year has found me back in that place. It’s been cold, dark, lonely and at times, suffocating. You see, depression for me is like a relentless storm cloud that lingers, casting shadows over every aspect of my life. It seeps into my thoughts, drains my energy, and makes the simplest of tasks seem insurmountable. I was again, trapped in its clutches, but time was worse as it was accompanied with Anxiety, one to feel nothing, the other feeling everything, often at the same time; conflict. I had tried everything from talking therapy to a range of medications, working out, going for walks, everything we are told to do, but nothing helped in this deep dark.
Can I be transparent? - I wanted to end my life. In fact, every single day within the past year, it’s that thought lingering in the back of my mind, reaffirming to me the depths of my pain and how everything I tried, (and believe me I have been trying), failed. Nothing reached that place within me. Not many people have reached out to me during this past year or checked if I’m ok, and this didn’t help with the suicidal thoughts, as I believed no one would even know I’m gone, or miss me; it’s been very dark. My days have been marked in hyper productivity, being a hope for others, an inspiring voice declaring the same message of ‘better days’, holding on to a thread of ‘eventually good things happen for good people’, but more storms kept coming, pulling me deeper into the dark and I grew more tired each time I found a way to get myself out of it; only to go back in again. It had felt like I was trapped in a perpetual winter, with no hope of spring.
There was a particular morning where I had been up all night battling those thoughts, not knowing who to turn to, or where to go. I had a plan and I was going to carry it out, but then, as I was in the bathroom I heard a crash in my room. I went in the room to see what it was, and saw my Peace Lily on the floor, carpet covered in compost, stones and rocks everywhere. It was my cat, Cali. She had knocked it over. I stood there as she hid, knowing she had done wrong, and I watched the Peace laying there on the floor, mirroring my situation and heart in that moment. I didn’t clean it immediately, I just sat there crying; I felt it’s pain - and no one knew but me. I eventually cleaned it up, repot it and it was back to safety, and so was I momentarily, though it was still dark.
Amidst this darkness, a glimmer of hope appeared in the form of something unexpected - my collection of houseplants. I looked around and I saw life. As useless as I felt within that moment, I was good for something; caring. Little did I know that the therapy I would find in daily plant care would not only breathe life into my space, but also help me to heal. After that morning, caring for these plants became my daily ritual. Watering, tending, and nurturing them became more than chores; they were acts of self-care. I found that focusing on their needs allowed me to temporarily escape my own, and their silent presence brought a sense of companionship that was so often lacking in those dark days. I mentioned it was like a friendship, I lost many, but through it learned there is season for everything, and I didn’t allow the loss to make me lose sight of all of the other plants that made it; that were still journeying with me.
As I watered my plants, I was also watering my soul. The gentle trickle of the watering can, the earthy scent of soil, and the sight of leaves perking up in gratitude became a balm for my wounded spirit. It was a simple routine, but it provided structure and purpose in a life that had lost its way; on average 2 hours per day, every day. I was learning to read their subtle signs of distress. The patience required to nurture them helped me develop a kinder, more patient relationship with myself and others. As I cared for my plants, they began to thrive. New leaves unfurled, and they grew taller, mirroring the growth I was experiencing within. I realized that my efforts were not in vain - I was capable of nurturing life and making things flourish, both in my space and within myself.
My experience wasn't just anecdotal. There's scientific evidence to support the therapeutic effects of plants. Studies have shown that indoor plants can reduce stress, boost mood, and even improve air quality. It’s no surprise to me that every time I feel overwhelmed, I start gardening, even if that is just rearranging my pots; it helps. Nature has a way of healing, and my plants were the conduit to this healing. When I see a new bloom or leaf unfurling, it is as if the plants are giving back the love and care I had given them, a beautiful reminder of the reciprocity in nurturing life.
Over time, my home transformed into a lush, green sanctuary; a little jungle with furniture. The atmosphere changed, becoming more serene and inviting as I began to uniform all of my pots, created a system for care, and it was quiet, and mine. My plant-filled space provided a refuge from the chaos of the outside world, a place where I could breathe freely and find solace. My journey with plants went far beyond dealing with depression and anxiety. The daily care and attention I provided to my green companions became a source of resilience, a reminder that life could flourish in even the harshest conditions. No matter how dark life gets, I look around and I see life, life that I was capable of cultivating through them at my weakest. It gave me the strength to persevere, to seek help, and to work on my mental health. It was as if my plants had rooted me in the present, grounding me as I reached for a brighter future; even if most days, that was just to make it through the day; they were there with me.
My plants offered me a lifeline, a way to reconnect with myself and the world, and a path to recovery. They were more than just potted greenery; they were healers, companions, and saviours. My plants, in their quiet and unassuming way, showed me that life, even in its tiniest forms, can flourish and bloom, even in the darkest of times.
‘Nature finds a way’ - My Sister
…and so, “You have too many plants”, they said. Unbeknownst to them, I counted on them more than one could imagine; they saved my life.
To my sister, thank you. To anyone who has ever gifted me a plant, thank you. To anyone I have ever gifted a plant, you’re welcome. But above all, to my plants, thank you.
You were my project while I were yours.