‘The pumpkins are taking over my flat!’
I’ve accidentally fostered pumpkins, which are taking over my flat. This began around Halloween, when I discovered sprouting seeds inside my carving pumpkin. It felt like a tiny gift in a dark season, so I thought I’d try raising them and see what came of it. This was perhaps not the wisest decision in a tiny flat with no outdoor space. Pumpkins love sun, but even in the darkest part of winter, two sprouts survived.
Ever since, I’ve become a bit obsessed – when Wales announced the sudden-onset Christmas lockdown, I ran out to buy two big plant pots before all shops shut, so the pumpkins would have something to grow into. Lucky I did, too, because they’ve now grown to take over my windowsills. I’ll be tremendously pleased if they fruit. It’s been cheering, if a bit worrying, to have kept something alive to the point where its leaves are the size of my head. Jackie, university lecturer, Cardiff
‘My orchids remind me of Grandma’
I lost my grandma last year. She loved plants, so collecting them brings back good memories. They also remind me of my home country of Brazil, which is full of forests.
At the start of lockdown, I had three plants, and now I have more than 100, mostly orchids. I don’t have any outdoor space, so it’s like an indoor garden. I’m researching and learning how to take care of them – I even got some lighting for them to grow. Inajara Schuaber, communications officer, London
‘We call the cactus Trevor’
The cactus my son was neglecting in his Sheffield flat came home with him at the start of lockdown – his name is Trevor (the cactus, not the son). He joined my three un-killable houseplants on the windowsills. I made it my mission to love Trevor back to happiness.
As a kid I grew houseplants in my bedroom and had always carted a few around with me on my moves but their number dwindled as my life became busier and filled up with other demands – work, kids. I have now remembered how much I enjoyed them. Sandy, Kingston upon Thames
‘I have enjoyed sprouting avocado stones’
I’m a student and live alone. Growing plants for company is living proof that you don’t have to feel lonely. It’s something you can give attention to without too much of an impact on your life, and I’m able to watch something grow at the same time as I’m growing as a young person.
I have enjoyed sprouting avocado stones, which is surprisingly easy and satisfying. I have about eight stones in incubation and it has become a mini-obsession.
There is some green space in Dundee, but it’s nice to bring a little bit of the outside inside.
My mum sends me cuttings in the post, so whatever she’s growing, I propagate it here. She’s in Hampshire, eight hours away on the train, so it’s like a hidden message: “I care for you so I’m sending you a plant.” I’ve experienced that with friends a lot more in lockdown, too; there are other people growing things around me, so we’ve been swapping, leaving stuff on the doorstep. Tilda Watson, student, Dundee
‘My four-year-old loves growing things’
My four-year-old daughter Nmeso loves growing things. She takes all the baby plants, and says they are hers. We do it together; she goes around asking me about them. My eight-year-old Ebuka is also quite into plants.
I ate an avocado and put the stone in water for a few weeks, and it’s now a baby tree. I also got mini monstera cuttings from a plant sale at a shop near my house, and grew them in water before potting them on. There were four in total; one died and three are doing so well.
Before lockdown, I was mostly an outdoor gardener. My kids were interested, too, except when the odd bee came and they ran away. I’ve always had a few plants in the house – a parlour fern, a rubber tree and a dragon plant – but the number has dramatically increased. When you feel down, it’s nice to look at them, and a good way to distract you from what’s happening. Raleke Obidike, civil servant, Manchester
‘I’m turning my one-bedroom flat into a miniature Kew’
I’m slowly turning my one-bedroom flat into a miniature Kew gardens. I’ve been growing an assortment of edible plants from grocery scraps/seeds. So far I’ve raised (and eaten) spring onions and mint, and I’m waiting to see if I can get my pineapple plant to fruit. I also managed to grow a small date palm but it might be too optimistic to expect this to fruit in London. I don’t have much by way of decoration – I’d rather fill my space with plants. I let them grow down the window like natural curtains. Chris, tax technology consultant, London
‘I was eating an apple at my desk when I noticed a small white shoot …’
In April 2020, in the early days of working from home, I was eating an apple at my desk when I noticed that a small white shoot was emerging from one of the seeds that had dropped out of it. I popped it into some soil in a pot and kept it on the window sill next to my work station – and lo and behold, a little seedling emerged.
The room was redecorated so it had to be moved outside, and then our first child was born and my mind understandably went elsewhere, so it withered and lost its leaves. However, spring is here and the seedling has sprung back to life. It’s now about 1 metre tall and feels like a great sign of hope as we emerge from an incredibly tough winter. Tom Urry, project manager, Bristol
‘Melon seedlings are lovely and furry’
My wife and I started a nature table on our kitchen window sill, starting with letting the end of a beetroot sprout, then a carrot, and then a more ambitious project to try to get acorns to grow. I never managed to get anything going from my collection of conkers. Melons are great as their seedlings make good pets – they are lovely and furry.
The nature table does bring us joy. It’s in front of the sink, so when we’re doing a bit of washing-up, we look at the things and see how they’re getting on. Before lockdown we just had a few cacti. Peter Crush, retired, Twyford near Reading
‘I’ve started talking to them each morning’
I’ve gone from killing my one house plant in my old room, to an ever-increasing houseplant collection spreading across two floors of my new home. I’ve started talking to them each morning, welcoming any new leaves and sharing ridiculous updates with friends and family. It’s like I have replaced regular interaction with colleagues, friends and family with plant chat. They have brought me a lot of joy (and panic when they’re looking sad). Kirsty Bowman, bids manager, Bristol.
‘I love swapping with other crazy plant people’
I love indoor plants – the different shades of green and shapes of leaves. It’s been wonderful having long-term projects. I love propagating my indoor plants and swapping them with other crazy plant people or giving them as presents. I have approximately 40 houseplants.
Being able to watch something grow and do well is such a satisfying and soul-soothing thing to do. It has helped keep us afloat this year even in a one-bed flat with no garden. It makes us feel we’re doing our bit for the environment as well. Rebecca, vet, London
‘I’m looking forward to a bumper tomato crop’
I started working from home in March 2020, and growing tomatoes was a distraction from the endless Zoom meetings. I loved watching their progress and harvested my last tomatoes in November. The taste and flavour were exceptional.
I’ve since retired and have branched out by propagating a wider range of tomato varieties along with chilli and corn. Most of my seedlings will need adopting by friends and neighbours to avoid the house being overwhelmed, but I am looking forward to a bumper crop in a few months. Claire Woodward-Nutt, retired civil servant, Glasgow