Plant lady

Last June, 800 years ago, I had the time to do something I’d not done in centuries: I repotted plants — moved rootbound greens into new, spacious pots, homes which allow them to grow, to move, to flourish. This Budget Vogue fashionista used soil to enhance lives, to celebrate greenery.

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And now, those plants are coming inside, moving into the house for the fall and winter. They are my new housemates, lovely friends who require little more than water, sunlight, company.

The jade tree began as a tiny sprout collected from a visit to Santa in 2003 at Wentworth Greenhouse in Dover. Rather than giving out candy canes, children could take a plant. My daughter Jane selected her plant and, over the years, just like her, the jade tree has grown and flourished.

That candy cane would have lasted less than five minutes. Plants are enduring, calming, friends.

When a couple gets married in Holland, more often than not, a wedding gift is a plant, a simple bit of greenery. I adore this idea; a plant is a lot like a marriage — requiring light, water, nourishment, an occasional re-potting and trimming.

I’ve only been married once (so far) but I’ve had myriad plants. My philodendrons are glorious: They wrap and flow elegantly; I give them my leftover tea and they seem to enjoy Barry’s Irish blend. I love them — friends who’ve seen me through some hard times and challenges. My plants are there.

And plants, I’m finding, are wonderful right now. In a world with so much uncertainty, disdain and grief, those greens around my house are my companions, my joy, my dependable earth. They require so little of me. I can do this — I can water you, I think, I can move you around, I can see that you get enough sun.

I ran into a friend the other day who complained, “I just wish one thing — just one thing — was the same.” I get that. I mourn the free coffee I’d sip at Market Basket, mourn wearing lipstick, mourn meeting up with friends.

But I have no need to mourn my plants. They have stayed constant. They have only grown in this pandemic — thrived from added attention, fresh soil, light, water and tea. I am grateful for them, and I know we’ll be OK this winter with our rituals, our moments in the light, our time to root and grow — not just in spite of the pandemic but perhaps because of it.

So, dear Budget Vogue fashionistas, this time of life may not be the time to sport new lipstick, give hugs or sip Market Basket coffee, but it’s a beautiful time to celebrate our constant companions: our plants.

Susan Dromey Heeter writes and teaches on the Seacoast. Contact her at