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They say of authors, and aspiring ones, that they are either architects or gardeners.

They say of authors, and aspiring ones, that they are either architects or gardeners.

Architects like to have things planned out; a beginning, middle and end. On the other hand a gardener just plants seeds and sees what grows from them. I count myself one of the latter, I love planting seeds of thought and growing ideas.Banana

But gardens and plants for real… I’ll leave that to other folk. Too much like hard work. Or so I thought.

I have been blessed with many gifts but green-fingers are not one of them. Hence my dislike of all things horticultural.

So I am pleased to announce that I am the proud owner of one very healthy banana plant; from which I have now taken cuttings and have its off-springs developing nicely.

I never thought I would have so much joy at such a seemingly mundane thing to do as help and nurture a plant to grow and reproduce.

But let me take you back a couple of months.

Sitting in the corner of a room in the West Kent Recovery Service hub, where I work, was a very sorry looking, battered and beaten plant. It had been part of a group of plants brought in by one of the hub’s service users as they had a glut of them.

All they needed was a good home.

The fit, vibrant, well-established plants had all been taken save this one sorry specimen.

The best place for it was the bin remarked a few people as it looked half-dead, woefully wilting leaves, brown tinged on the edges.

Not wishing to see it thrown on the rubbish heap I decided to place it in a plastic bag and take it home. Not really knowing what I was doing, I bought some plant food and duly presented my pathetic plant to my family.

Amid the comments of ‘it’s dead’, ‘what a waste of time’ etc., I placed it on the window sill at the front of my house where it would get most sunlight, followed the instructions on the feed bottle, and gave it a good drink.

Not holding out much hope I left it to itself for a few days, feeding and watering as appropriate.

The brown tinged leaves seemed to be getting more brown and wizened. I had all but lost hope. And even my words of encouragement seemed to do little to perk it up (yes, I even tried talking to it…).

Then one morning as I opened the curtains, to my amazement, the brown leaves had finally fallen but in its place was a green shoot staring up at me.

Where there was little hope suddenly there was new hope.

Like an expectant father I waited anxiously for the birth of a new life. Didn’t quite get to the pacing bit…

Nature or nurture the debate could go on for years.

But whichever it was I now have a very healthy banana plant. It doesn’t flower or bear fruit, at least I don’t think it does. But it fills me with an immense amount of satisfaction and joy.

This plant, seemingly destined a brief moment ago to the great compost heap in the sky was now growing and producing off-shoots that would grow in to healthy plants too.

It had, with a little modest help from me, flourished.

And as each new leaf sprouts and spreads out it grows stronger and more vibrant.

The plant fills me with so much joy because as it grows it reminds me of the service user who brought it in; the other service users that took the other plants. These people have also taken control of their lives and are finding recovery from alcohol or substance misuse. They, like the plants, are growing and developing new shoots fed by the Whole Person Recovery programme; engaging with their communities and finding a place to take root.

Plant a few seeds and there’s every chance something beautiful and individual may grow and bear fruit for years to come.

We all have the power to make positive change to our environment and the wider world. We should all look to find any seed, kernel, grain or nucleus of an idea and nurture it, allow it to grow, develop and flourish and see what springs up.

As Roman poet Caecilius Statius said: ‘Plant trees to benefit another generation’.


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