The Green Plant
One afternoon, walking down the road during lockdown 2 in London, it was brought to my attention that the flower shops around had remained open. Happy, because it meant a few more small businesses would not be going out of business, but I was more so skeptical. Skeptical because government guidelines had advised that only essential businesses may remain open.
It crossed my mind for a second to think, they're not essential are they?!
But then I thought more deeply, about plants, flowers, green stuff.
It wasn't a eureka moment, more so a slow churning, warming, growing realization - seemingly planted within me years ago - that a green plant is a little thing that can have a not so little impact.
For as long as I have known, we - as a family - have been going to Columbia Road Flower Market in Spitalfields to buy our flowers, plants, trees, etc. (We did it before it was cool, and hipster, and gentrified before you mention it, by the way.)
It would be a family outing. Highlighted by the promise my sister and I would get a hot chocolate or cup of breaded prawns out of the visit; mum and dad would return with arms full of gorgeous lilies, tulips, and whatever green manifestation happened to tickle their fancy that day.
But Columbia Road is not the only relation we have to greenery. Until not long ago, my dad's family were owners of greenhouses in the Netherlands. I spent a lot of my time in these glass muses as a kid. Running through them, climbing the machinery, pretending I knew what seeds to plant.
I didn't realize it at the time, but the subject matters produced in our family's greenhouses, sold on Columbia Road and in so many far-reaching corners of the world, actually have a far greater role, and use - other than just looking nice.
There are so many metaphors out there about plants and trees - reaping what you sow, etc etc - but does that really mean anything to you if you can't acknowledge the pure beauty of what that actually stands for?
Sometimes in these past and coming weeks, I guarantee you will have put up a plant in your house. Real or fake. A Christmas tree will have popped up, in one of the more dusty corners of your house.
You may not realize it yet, but the minute you put up your tree, you introduced another dimension of influence into your life.
In a book I read almost a year ago now, called 59 Seconds by Richard Wiseman, he noted how plants in offices are said to increase production by 15 percent.
But the flies it attracts distract me!!! Think again!
Some of the theories behind this increased productivity include the way the human species has evolved - humans historically related plants to the nearing of food sources. So when they saw foliage, it would calm them, feeling less worried knowing that food is coming - allowing you to think more freely. Another theory highlights the color of plants - green is associated with creativity and action. In one study, German researchers had subjects glance at certain colors for two seconds before doing a creative task. They found that the color green boosted people’s creative output more than other colors.
But that's the boring stuff - I just threw it in here to give you some kind of method behind the madness.
The madness that is picking a bunch of flowers from the park (illegal don't do it); spending ten quid on a cactus (because it looks cool); religiously watering a plant every day; or covering a tree with decorations every year; the premise for all of this green shenanigans is because it makes us feel free, happy, joyous every time the greenery catches our eyes - and as we've just learned actually increases production too (apparently).
So while you're putting up the tree this year - think of the new dimensions you're adding to your life.
I don't recommend you keep your tree up for longer than it needs to be - but maybe add a house plant to your Christmas list this year.
A green plant is a little thing, that can have a not so little impact.