A year or so ago, I inherited a cardboard box filled with plants. It was an offshoot from an enormous collection that belonged to a young botanist from Stockwell. He was about to be turfed out of the derelict building he lived in and hundreds of plants were being spread across London. I offered to rehome a few.
My only outdoor space is a window box, so most of the plants had to face life indoors. Some were happy; others withered. I enjoyed having them, though, so I replaced the dead and began a collection. My one-bed flat now contains more than 20 plants.
The window box is bursting with herbs — parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. I’ve also added some mint. More knowledgeable friends tell me that it has aggressive roots and will soon turn into a despotic ruler. I do not doubt them. I refuse to hand over any more money to the supermarkets for scrawny packets of tasteless leaves, however, so I am waiting to see what happens. My bathroom has succulents — they like the humidity; the kitchen has a cactus. I don’t own a trowel, but a tablespoon does the job. A teapot makes a perfectly good watering can.
There are lots of excellent places to buy plants but it’s worth avoiding the rip-off merchants who have cropped up charging extortionate prices for fashionable species. I won’t name them, but suffice to say you should avoid anywhere that refers to itself as a ‘concept store’. Seek out garden centres or market stalls, or better still, grow your plants from cuttings or seeds. You can also find some stonking varieties online.