I became Practice Manager of the Cheltenham Practice Rooms when the centre first opened in 2016 and of course, my main aim was welcoming new members and figuring out the wonderfully magnificent, yet incredibly time consuming, quirks of this brand new centre.
I allowed the plants to be watered by the caretaker. Well, to say allowed would suggest a certain amount of contemplation. Whereas I was busy welcoming and signing up new members; figuring out why the exposed gutters in the roof were leaking; rescuing trapped seagulls that got caught in the bird mesh… Figuring out this incredibly beautiful old building took up all my time and the plants simply didn’t get noticed.
Until one fateful day. I was showing around a potential new practitioner, who is actually also a friend of mine. She turned to me and said, “Emma. You need to pack the soil around the roots of this Palm. Look. Just like this!” And she lovingly gathered the soil up around the roots and tucked the Palms roots snuggly away. “I’ve been learning how to garden all weekend,” she told me with a wink.
After she left, I looked around at all the plants in the building. A few plants were doing absolutely fine, but - I feel thoroughly ashamed to say - a lot were dying, maybe dead, but definitely on their last legs. Either dry, dreary and desperate to be repotted, or so wet and so soggy that they were literally drowning in their clay pots.
How on earth had I not seen this before??
A vague memory sprung to mind of someone once complimenting my other half, saying you can tell a lot by how a person looks after things, by how they look after their plants... eek...
What could I, someone who knows nothing about these green things possibly do to bring this once gorgeous greenery back to life?
My saviour came in the form of a knight in shining armour with very green fingers, my hubbie. I went home and asked if he would help me transform The Practice Rooms plants into a glowing and uplifting state, rather than this doom and gloom that was currently the case.
That weekend we examined each and every plant and doctored it. The plants that I had thought were dead, were actually still very much in battle! Once we pulled away the dead foliage, you could see new growth desperately trying to survive the elements inflicted upon it.
The next day we visited not one, but three garden centres. Not with my normal attention of where is the coffee shop? Or does it have a fancy gift shop selling quirky cups? But with attention to the plants. And does this plant grow well if it is not in a sunny spot? Does this plant need good drainage? Is this a hardy plant, that can survive my inexperienced ways? Or maybe this plant would be a bit to thorny for my novice gardening skills.
I came away with half a dozen new plants, some compost and some splendid new pots to refresh our charming centre.
After a few lessons of how to repot a plant, when to feed a plant and most importantly, how much to water (or not to water) a plant, I was sent on my way to continue my duties as a budding enthusiast.
In many ways, the plants at the centre have become so healthy as I’ve cared for them like my children. I talk to them, I create rotas for when to water and when to feed, I take days off of normal work to tend to their growing needs - repotting, removing ageing foliage, moving to a better spot. I worry about them - have I fed them too much or not enough. But what I have found, which has been such an unexpected pleasure, is how much I enjoy tending to their needs. How incredibly therapeutic and satisfying it is to spend a day pottering with the plants. How excited I am when a cutting I have taken from the mummy plant, sprouts roots in a pot of water and makes me a baby. How rewarding it is to watch this baby grow into a delicate and dazzling mummy plant itself! An incredibly satisfying process!
All my knowledge has been acquired through trial and error, conversations and observation. I have carried out no lengthily learning through books or YouTube, maybe the odd quick internet search on, “Why is there white dust on the outside of my plant pot?”
So, if I can do it, someone who had absolutely no interest, knowledge or skill of taking care of plants, and create a centre with well over 60 healthy, delightfully stunning plants, you can too!!
frondescence[ fron-des-uhns ]
the process or period of putting forth leaves, as a tree, plant, or the like.