I'm loving my plants!! 


By Prime Sarmiento

I always knew that I need to have some potted plants in my flat. I know that I’m no green thumb but my interest on natural skin care, traditional forms of healing and environmentalism have nudged me to grow some potted herbs and flowers in my balcony (and perhaps making my own compost. I also believe that city dwellers need to bring a piece of nature in our homes. I once thought of buying flowers and putting them in the vase but I find that wasteful. Plus, cutflowers, like potpourri, are literally dead plants and that’s supposed to be a no- no in feng shui (not that I’m a feng shui expert here, but still).  

But I never bought plants and I always had reasons, nay excuses, for not buying any:

*I was supposed to buy an orchid from a shop but the sales lady couldn’t tell me how to raise them. And it costs too much – 20 dollars a pot. Plus  I heard it’s difficult to tend orchids – high maintenance.

* So I heard that plants in agropark sells for less than 10 bucks. But I don’t have a car and I don’t know how to re-pot a plant. Nah the plants will die. Might as well not buy.

* Oh God, really, who has time to make a compost? And where will I get the earthworms for the compost

*Ok, I know I’m 40 something and single.  But I’m soooo not an old maid who has turned to gardening as a hobby because I live such a boring life (cringe!!!!)

Of course, looking back, I know that those were all just lame excuses. Deep inside, I have a more serious reason for not wanting to buy a plant: I don’t want to stay long in boring Brunei.  Buying and tending plants to me is akin to settling down – I’m literally (and figuratively) putting down roots. And I don’t want to do that in a country which bans a lot of things (wine, a lot of books, bars and that holiday we celebrate in December) and doesn’t offer a lot of opportunities for a journo like me.    




But one weekend, I found myself in a street festival in Jubilee Park where, apart from buying handmade journals and artisanal soaps, I found myself buying my first terrarium. A day later, I will return to Jubillee Park just so I can mindlessly hand over 50 bucks to buy two more from the same vendor.

Now I have three terrariums and I put them all at the white Monobloc table in my balcony and they’re one of the first things that I want to see every time I wake up in the morning (and yes I do talk with my cactus every day).

I have pragmatic reasons. These are cactus and succulents so they’re quite low maintenance plants. They’re also in the terrarium, so basically I didn’t have to spend time and money looking for plants, soil, pots and learning how to build a terrarium. So someone else did that for me!  Then there’s the cuteness factor – just look at my pots, decorated by the vendor herself.

But most of all, after being in Brunei for two years, I finally accepted that while this is not the place where I really want to be, this is the place where I have to be now. So I have these terrariums to remind me to live in the now and be thankful for whatever gifts and lessons that I receive while living here.

Besides terrariums are portable. Like a Gypsy Gal who still refuse to put down roots, terrariums can be brought and thrive anywhere as long as there’s water, sunlight and an empty patio.