A couple of weeks ago, I attended the Happy Houseplants workshop at Norfolk School of Gardening (and mum came along too). With urban life expanding, homes and gardens are shrinking, and houseplants are coming to the fore. For those who have the urge to get green-fingered but lack the acreage, it’s just as well we have houseplants to turn our hand to. One need not feel green with envy, when there is so much joy to be had from houseplants too.
Part 1: Houseplant Care and Propogation
The workshop begins in the fashion I have come to expect from Norfolk School of Gardening: homemade cake and biscuits. Lemon drizzle and shortbread, to be exact. But I should not linger on this point too long, as my mouth is likely to start watering at the thought alone. But we’ll return to watering later.
Next comes Kevin with his horticultural expertise, and a gorgeous buffet of his own houseplants to show and tell. The next couple of hours is a free-form seminar. All the things you need to know about caring for your potted pals: the absolute basics, for general consumption, and individual advice for those in attendance. There was a good range of understanding from the various participants, which Kevin deals with magnificently – no beginner nor expert left behind. Kevin has the ability to pack the learning in without making it feel like a lecture and I learnt a lot in a very short space of time.
- Plants that help to clean the air in your home.
- Plants that are easy to care for.
- Plants that need a little extra love.
- Varieties of colours and shape and size.
- What kind of soil is best.
- How and when to repot.
- How to clean your plants.
- What environment is best.
- Those that take a while to grow, and those that grow like billy-o.
I could go on.
Perhaps my biggest takeaway from the morning was a newfound love for Spider Plants and Ivy. Before, to my mind, they were average, mediocre, even ugly. But now I know they are fascinating and wonderful things. They’ll weather almost anything, they come in all manner of colours and shapes and they’ll even clean the air you breathe – all with little to no help from us.
After the classroom session, it’s off to the Rhino greenhouse, set in the beautiful grounds of Ketteringham Hall to do a little propagating (a word I always thought to be a little fancier than was necessary, but now I am a pro and all those syllables conjure feelings of pride and self-righteousness). We were each given a small cutting of the Mexican Hat plant to pot up with fresh compost and a good watering for us all to take home. And the Mexican Hat plant is pretty amazing too, growing small protuberances from its leaves that fall and take up root wherever they land.
Post propagation, it was time for lunch in the delightful Orangery Tea Room and a quick stroll around the gardens. Then we returned to the classroom for Part 2.
Part 2: Macramé
The problem with small homes and lots of houseplant is surface area. And so instead we look upward: hanging pot holders.
You may remember macramé from the 70’s, or it might the trendy hipster era that has shown you this crafty revelation, but Donna from Pretty Cactus knows it’s far older than that. And Donna is a plant expert too, with her own shop and website, devoted to the selling of houseplants.
While we knot and nibble on cake, Donna shares a bit about the history of macramé – something she learnt from her grandmother – and it’s use not only as an art-form, but as a way of practising mindfulness. And it is a very mindful practise. That is until you realise you went slightly wrong about 10 knots ago and have to undo it all. But all joking aside, and with a little jiggery-pokery, everyone had a lovely pot hanger to take home.
And then it was time for the finale: a chilled glass of bubbles. Cheers.