Houseplants, flooding, and unproductive days

The rain has been relentless for some weeks now, so much so that the land is saturated, the rivers are overflowing, and France has declared a natural disaster in this region after extensive flooding. You can read about it here in The Local France.

Fortunately we ourselves haven’t been impacted in terms of flooding. But there’s been a stream running down the drive much of the time and there’s a small lake by the gate where water running down the road diverts onto our property rather than continuing onwards.

Earlier today I spotted a large machine trundling up and down the lane, stopping from time to time to do something with the ditches. For some time it was parked up at our entrance but I decided not to go and find out what was happening partly because my French isn’t really up to that level of communication (yet … wishful thinking?) and partly because … yes … you know it already … it was raining. There is a strong sense of responsibility here for keeping the ditches, streams, and rivers flowing yet contained within their proper bounds. I suspect many in the UK wish it were the same there.

I was keen to get outside today to shred the material I cut down yesterday (in between the rain). A Solanum jasminoides alba on the corner of the covered terrace had got completely out of hand and was over-dominating its position. Initially I thought I’d trim it hard, but as I began I realised that there was so much dead wood on the inside that something more was needed. I’ve now got to the stage where I suspect it may be an ex-Solanum. That won’t matter as there’s a Trachelospermum jasminioides very close which I can train in its place which will be much more suitable as all the other pillars of the covered terrace also have Trachelospermums growing up them. So as soon as it is dry I shall need to get back outside armed with a saw to attack the final big and woody core.

But not today as the rain has been steady. So I’ve fiddled and faffed all day so far, without having much in the way of objectives or outcomes. As a result I’ve a slight sense of restlessness as I do like to have a purpose. I did attend to the houseplants though, so I thought I’d write about them.

When we were only here half and half it was very difficult to have houseplants at all because when we left the house unoccupied all the shutters had to be closed and secured which removed natural light from the inside of the house. One of the first things I did after I arrived as a Brefugee at the end of October 2020 was to go and buy a few plants to soften the inside of the house and make it feel more lived in. Its not much of a collection yet but I know it will grow.

My watering method may be like yours; I gather them all together once a week or so in the kitchen, drench them with water, leave them for an hour or so, then drain all the excess water out of the pots and replace them in their allotted spots. That seems to ensure that they stay well hydrated but also avoids over watering them (the cause of death for many houseplants I gather).

So this is what it looked like.

Before I add the water I go over each plant to pull off dead leaves and other detritus. I always remember the advice of a lovely older lady called Betty, when I was first setting up home aged 18, “look after your plants, look at them, they will tell you what they need”. My lovely Niwaki snips come in very handy when doing this job, being able to easily get right into the centre of plants.

I’m a sucker for tools. I know that’s usually a man thing (gender stereotype alert) but I just love identifying the need for a new tool, saving up for it, and then buying it. I gather other women like handbags. I like tools.

Out of the group shot above is a philodendron which currently hangs on a hook over the ancient stone sink.

When I first bought it some of the tendrils were a little long for the position so I trimmed them off and put them in a glass of water, thinking that those bumpy nodules would immediately turn into lovely roots and I could pot them up for another free plant. I love free plants.

Not so, they just rotted. So I cut the rotting part of the stems off and put them into a pot of compost.

I know. Doesn’t look particularly healthy does it. Time will tell.

I often have a magazine beside me when I eat my lunch. Today it was a copy of Gardens Illustrated from the end of last year. Lo and behold, Jane Perrone was writing about propagating philodendrons.

I will know what to do next time some of the tendrils get too long and I decide to propagate them. Thanks Jane!

It still feels like rather an unproductive day, but at least I have something planty I can write down into the daily record I am keeping as an encouragement.

I hope your day, however you’ve spent it, feels like a good day.

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6 thoughts on “Houseplants, flooding, and unproductive days

  1. Having just drowned a basil plant I was given this post is in good time for the next green gift I am given. I don’t get on very well with plants and my garden survives in spite of me, but I love the advice you give – and the joy you have in working in your garden. Please send me a cup or two of your rain – we have not had serious rain here in the Cape (South Africa) for several months now and the gardens and dams are struggling, although further north they too are having floods. It’s a strange world!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is a strange world at times, Mandy, and the uneven rainfall across the world is definitely one of those strange things. We can always but hope and pray for the worst effects of drought and/or flooding to be mitigated.


      1. I can only imagine Sharon. Must be so tough. We’ve been contemplating our way forward. But at the moment the biggy is Covid. But I will be picking your brains about residency when we meet for coffee – hopefully this year sometime. I’m really missing planning our Easter trip. We’ve had the house 9 years this Easter and been every Easter since 2012, so seems weird. Usually it’s dull and can be very wet but we’ve had gloriously sunny and hot too. Just nice to see the garden coming to life. I miss my fig trees😩🤣😘


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