Tuesday, September 6, 2016

If it was good enough for St Laurent, it’s more than good enough for me!

I had a good chuckle recently when I saw in a magazine article that the designer Yves St. Laurent had a snake plant in his glorious Marrakech abode. The picture must have been taken years ago. In the intervening period up till now, the snake plant lost its appeal somewhat, perhaps because it seemed to be everywhere. But it’s definitely made a comeback in recent years, and I see it in home decor and design magazines. It does look very architectural, pointedly reaching up, but what endears the plant to me is its never-say-die attitude. No matter how badly I abuse my snake plants, they just grow. And grow. Which is great for my brown thumbs and bruised ego!

I realized very early on in my gardening endeavors that I can’t grow flowers. They just wilt and shrivel up, leaving behind a dry, desiccated mess that looks woefully sad in the planter box. I’ve discovered lately that I also can’t grow edibles. I start off very optimistically, buying all kinds of basil, as well as lemon balm and mint. I’ve even brought back pots of bay leaf from other countries. But sooner or later, they also share the same fate as my flowers.

Despite my brown fingers, they thrive
So I’m resigned to the fact that I can only grow green plants. Different kind of ferns and money plants thrive. I’ve had my fiddle leaf fig for years and it has to be pruned regularly before it reaches my balcony ceiling. And despite the clumsy gardening forays, my snake plants have never given up the ghost.

The snake plant (scientific name Sansevieria trifasciata) is also commonly known as mother-in-law’s tongue, a misnomer if there ever was on when it comes to MY mother-in-law. I think it’s the perfect houseplant. It can survive low light and drought and have very few insect problems. NASA research has even shown that it can keep the air inside the home clean, as well as remove toxins such as formaldehyde and benzene.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve repotted my snake plants and passed some new shoots along to friends. It’s just a simple matter of dividing up the fleshy rhizomes and sticking them into some free draining soil.

I’ve read that there are around 70 species of the snake plant. They are all evergreen and can grow anywhere. I’ve collected a few varieties (and other pointy-leafed plants that may not be of the same species) which dot my balcony space. I used to take them for granted because they’ve, well, always been just there. But after I spotted some for sale at a Melbourne nursery at what I considered to be astronomical prices, and saw how prized they were in that country, I’ve learned to better appreciate mine. They’re a mother-in-law’s tongue which have (like my own MIL) rewarded me with much kindness!

Now I wouldn't go to such lengths to show my love!

Take a look and be inspired by how the humble snake plant can transform the whole mood and feel of a home:

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