Plants For Air Quality

With a certain amount of excitement on his part, and some natural trepidation shared, I delivered my son to university at the weekend – packed, prepped and ready to start his journey within the new academic arena of his choice.

We arrived … only to discover that my son’s allocated hall of residence had just been refurbished. The smell of paint in the stairwell was cloying. The smell of brandnew carpet and MDF furniture in his bedroom stuck in my throat and I felt it everywhere. The knowledge of the air pollution and indoor toxins burnt in my brain, but I refused to panic.

It was impossible to get the bedroom window open wide enough to freshen the air – my son figured out how to free it substantially, 24 hours later, thank heavens – and so we set to the great unpacking procedure, despite the cloying stuffiness. I tried not to worry, but knew that I needed to do something to rectify it or I would not relax, given what I know about these things.

Once unpacked and supped, instead of accepting the status quo, refusing to cave into fear of what the toxins were doing to everyone in the apartment block, I made a beeline for the nearest supermarkets in the town. They are located, thankfully, nearby – all other shops were closed by that stage anyway – and was relieved to find one that had a few peace lily plants. Of the four on the shop shelf,  I gratefully scooped up two in best health, in order to help clean the air of the apartment.

My children are used to this, used to my concern about indoor and outdoor air quality. They ‘get’ that it’s about health and wellbeing, as well as adding effortless hygge (a Danish term I learnt recently), something they’re accustomed to as well. They take it in their stride when I start placing plants everywhere, indeed even listening when I give care instructions for the healthy maintenance of the green. My children have grown up hearing about healthy spaces, they both understand that it’s worth considering the materials we use for renovations. Air quality can make a huge difference to our health or otherwise.

Four days hence, and my son has settled in fast … as I’m sure have the plants. It is just a shame that the rest of the building was not health screened in this way. His bedroom received special treatment. Lucky chap.

It is worth making the effort to use eco paints and install natural carpets, as well as choosing wooden, rather than synthetic, furnishings. Using products that do not contribute any harmful elements to the air that we breathe, would make the world of interiors a much calmer and safer place – for the workers and the inhabitants, alike. Renovators, designers, building managers, handymen and renovation rescue teams of television fame, take note! If in doubt, add plants … Or add them anyway, to suck up fumes from materials, as well as those from electronic devices of all sorts.

It pays to take care of our environments, both indoors and out. A penchant for plants is never wasted!



In good health,

Holly x




Pingback to WordPress “The Daily Post” – prompt: Penchant

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot – A Motherhood Memory

IMG_5949 - cropped - THTT signed

Cooks Hill, NSW, Australia ~ 1993/94


“Swing low, sweet chariot …”

This picture … me ‘n my girl … in the garden of the first home that we owned, where we spent many glorious hours in Nature together, had lots and lots of parties and get-togethers, with friends and family frequently coming to stay.

The garden was a ”postage stamp”, whose every inch I knew, into which I poured my love and learnt all sorts about Australia. Gardening became the therapy for a very homesick heart, a heart that missed people in two countries, two continents called “home”, but with that came a grateful connection to the earth and so much that reminded me of my beloved Africa.

In order to be a parent, I had to learn to listen deeply to the rhythms of real soul, such as I had seen in the ways that African people cared for their young … My journey was an otherwise blind one, based only on what I felt to be right, and most of the time I could not see further than my nose in the process. I read LOTS of books.

I called that home “Tintinnare” … which is Latin; it means the ringing of bells. It was and still is, I’m sure, a very special place. We lived there five years, sold it to move to “Rosewood”, when my son, four years younger than his sister, was a year old.

Holly x

[This post was written for another platform originally, hence the brevity of script.]

Weedy Heights

I started my life in Africa living in a little house, on a hill, called “Weedy Heights”. I have recently learnt the address of this home that I once knew, felt safe in and loved, but have not seen it since I was three years old. I have no idea whether it kept that name, but to be honest, I doubt it.

There have been times over the past five years or so, when I have referred to the home where we currently live in Britain as “Weedy Heights”. It too sits on a hill, has a sense of rootedness and history … and has many “weeds” (aka herbs and flowers in the ‘wrong’ place), which I allow to grow for the sake of the suffering wildlife and to bring natural balance into the barren environment here. The obvious difference between this “Weedy Heights” and the original one, is that the original was in the Southern Hemisphere and currently I am in the North.

Another key difference is that the fauna and flora are completely different, although there are isolated elements (like inherited floribunda roses) that are the same. And there is a severe lack of vegetation in the area where I currently live – much to my dismay. Our garden has sufficient self-sown trees in it to start a sapling business … if only I could lay claim to the barren hill behind us and plant them all there!

Another clear and often painful difference, is that I have no photographs whatsoever of my life at my beloved first “Weedy Heights”, but have thousands collected and moments recorded over the short time at our current home. My happy early childhood exists only as a few bell-clear moments in my memory, the rest relegated to rare and awkward recollection by my estranged parents, who divorced soon after we moved from the area, while I was knee high to a butterfly … and my whole world completely collapsed, then changed.

Perhaps one of the reasons that I responded so immediately to our current home when I first saw it, was that I recognised a sense of security in the presence of mature shrubs and towering trees within the property on our arrival – a greenness and a solidity that was all around my first “Weedy Heights”, its borrowed landscape lush, alive with flora and fauna, and deeply, magically abundant. I had a sense, when I first came to view this current home, that this was a garden one might play in. Something deep down inside me saw glimpses of prettiness lurking in the overgrowth, and I longed to explore.

When I was a tiny child, it did not matter that our garden was small (at least, I assume it was), because to me the whole environment around our home was a magical, green oasis of all that made the world right and good. On days like today, when the farmers in Britain are out spraying toxins across their vast acres with a tyrant’s vengeance, I want to pack up my treasures and just go home … back to Africa … even as far back as my darling “Weedy Heights” there … and start the whole journey all over again.

It breaks my heart to see what the landowners are doing to the soil, the Earth, the whole once-biodiverse environment and I know that I will not last long here if I do not see positive change. Where to go from here? My own country was in collapse, or I would never have left there in the mid 1980s. I long to return now, yet cannot – at least not while the political instability and soaring crime rates continue to escalate  – but I go to bed at night wishing that at least one of my dreams could come true: A return home to where my heart truly is, or to see and feel the heart return to where we live now.

Some days the ache just will not go away.

Holly x