Back to Basics with Indoor Plants in Riyadh


It was the 16th of March when our company had us worked from home. We got back in the office after five months or last 17th August.

During that period, it was inevitable to develop a face-off against a tsunami, a duel against the invisible. Coping with the inconveniences, anxiety, and stress this situation brought upon us was a test of a lifetime. That telescoped my experience when this global pandemic was on its onset all the way through its peak. A multitude of people have gone through the same transitory abyss. The stationary culture that suddenly invaded our mobile lives has taken its toll. It took time for me to realize that I wasn’t alone when I was in the process of getting out of the quicksand.

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I was scrounging around the camera roll earlier and my optical organs got caught by this photo. Normally, I compose the caption first then select what to me is the right photo for it. This one is a monotony breaker. The caption came after. I had no particular theme for it based on the very visual appeal then and so I let it—literally—slipped. Nevertheless, I wanted one that is relevant to the very situation the world is into. I then played one of the old episodes (titled “What 2019 Has Taught Me”) of a favorite radio show, The Morning Rush (TMR) as a diversion. As the title goes, listening to it taught me the nicest thing about us humans. Thank Goodness I did put the post off. I remember how daunting the imposition of self-quarantine and social & physical distancing was not too long from the time I took this photo. Add to that the other changes—brought about by the ineffable entity—such as working from home, socializing via Zoom or FB live, covering up when going out, eating sardines like it is a staple food, etc. (The new normal in pictures you say.) They created uncertainties in our minds yet at this point, there is one thing that seems certain, which like I said earlier is the nicest thing about us humans: “Our uncanny ability to adapt.” We do not necessarily want the changes but we do thrive without knowing most of the time. The current situation is a testament to that. On the flipside, I am praying hard that we do not revert to old habits particularly flocking in to public places, even private ones, now that the curfew is partially lifted in the area. May we continue to be more hygienic; adhere to social and physical distancing at home more so in malls, grocery stores, parks, restaurants, cafes, etc; and, of course, supplicate… #stayhome #thenewnormalshouldbecarriedon #weareonetodayandtomorrow

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This was also the time I truly understood how connected we are with nature, with the outside. The unprecedented circumstances gravitated me toward creating a piece of nature inside the room to re-establish the connection. Enjoying the outside became a big challenge because there’s now a new dimension of time at home. I’m not discounting that the talks I had with special people from time to time did help too. But I was also looking for something or somewhere that could be readily available to ease a traumatized or stressed mind and body. A combination of something that’s visually communicative and a space where I can get my nose and hands in the earth.

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I am a lover of the great outdoors and a melophile. Listening to music is a surefire way to relax or destress prior to these times. Another is being out there. It puts my feet in motion, recharges my batteries, and stirs my creative juices. The thing is I haven’t felt the urge to listen to music since the quarantine started. I feel like it became irrelevant somehow with all that’s going on. Wandering around out there is not even a question of challenge but an absolute no-no. A couple of my relaxation, rebalancing, and destressing techniques were taken. A big part of me has become dormant primarily because of the ongoing restricted mobility. See, staying home and maintaining a physical distance when it’s fit aren’t easy. I gladly conform to them, nonetheless, because they are the least that we could do. No. They are the most humane thing we could do! Contemporary times slowly made me shift into the occasional visit at the dumpster and staring at this almost evergreen tree in front of the apartment to fill the void, from the usual daily grind in order to be mobile, be recharged, and be inspired. These extend to something as minor as smelling the fresh air underneath those healthy branches and hearing different birds cantilate and frolic aloft. These are llittle things but they definitely carry a big reminder during these times: Appreciate the freedom and simplicity that nature offers us because they are also essential to life…That freedom when we go out to throw garbage in the dumpster or to buy grocery items, and that simplicity when we see plants (like the vibrant tree in the photo) or animals roaming around content with their disposition. The Earth Maker has really got a profound, sometimes surprising and hard, way of enlightening us… #stayhome #supplicate #letskeepthefaith #practicesocialdistancingevenathome #weareoneinthisendeavor #physicaldistancing #followtherules #riyadhconnect #saudiimages #riyadhphoto #littlethings #simplethings

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I was practically stuck from home for a long time. (We all were.) I then wanted to create an environment that’s welcoming—one that’ll make the then unbearable summer and alarming situation somehow relaxed or, at the very least, manageable. This was how I came up with a miniature garden inside the room. A greenery on the table and on top of the cabinets.

It started with buying two pots of pothos in April. This plant doesn’t need much caring based on what I read. It’s considered the most low-maintenance of all indoor plants.  A week later, I bought another two pots and picked some dracaenas at the office’s garden. I now have almost 19 plants in bottles and recycled pots. Most of them are common choices for indoor plants. I became more drawn to nature.

To break the monotony, I ventured on planting two pineapple crowns, which were both cut off from commercial pineapples. For the second time since high school days, I’ve tilled a soil. It’s been a while…My fondness for greenery exponentially grew. There’s a huge difference between growing plants with your hands and just partaking them from the parks, gardens, as well as in the wild.

Looking around the house was redefined by plants. Working from home became something I look forward to upon waking up. When panic or worrying news comes up, caressing the plants or simply gazing at them put me at ease in an instant. It’s magical in a way. I never knew they’ll have that effect on me, on my fickle moods. Like I can easily escape from any worries. Like I’m comforted by their shiny green leaves straight away.

Gradually, the withering light in me was restored. I’ve also overcome the “blogger’s block” that I had been suffering from for months. I’ve also found grounding in the arms of these indoor plants. Having them around the room has been an adaptive and doable coping mechanism. Taking care of and nurturing another living thing, as an OFW, gave me some kind of escape value and an opportunity to do something good. This is exactly how negative thoughts get replaced by something positive when those enemies attack. The effects are pretty much the same as the ones I get from blogging, hiking, exercising, and other stuff I enjoy. The cleaner air they provide is a bonus.

Getting back on my feet from that predicament was way harder than undergoing ACL reconstruction last year. Thank God for the plants’ grounding magic! Having a green space in the room made all the difference. It also reminds me of what we should try to practice, if not enhance, in this now convenient yet not-so-eco-friendly world: Protect and preserve the Earth.

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Gardening water powered air purifiers!

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To date, the potted pineapple plants have grown sprouts. It’s a revelation to me how easy it is to grow them, indoors, and how good they are at air purification. The two snake plants have outgrown their respective pots. The lucky bamboo plants have grown roots bushier than my hair. The dracaenas have grown more leaves thicker than my cilia. And last but not least, the pothos are crawling like babies.

For those people who are planning to join the green nurturers’ bandwagon, my unsolicited advice is “take care of the plants the way you take care of yourselves”.

I’m grateful for Tamimi Market in Exit 8, Sultan Garden’s Center along Airport Road Branch beside J.Co Donuts (click here for location map), and that run-of-the-mill nursery opposite Al Nakheel Mall for aiding my Green Space Project. Among the three, Sultan Garden’s Center is your go-to nursery.

They can set you up with everything from succulents and hardy house plants to native shrubs and gardening accessories (sultangardencenter.com). Plus, they also make delivery services!

Related Articles

Sultan Gardens: Looking for plants! Anyone? (allaboutksa.com)

Riyadh Green Project launched with 48 major and 3,250  (xpressriyadh.com)

Riyadh Goes Green – Dq Living Magazine (dqliving.com)

‘Green Riyadh’ to Improve Environment in Saudi Capital (ajelen.com)

The rise of the ‘plantita’: Plants have feelings, too, like pet (lifestyle.inquirer.net)

New plant lovers emerge from quarantine (manilatimes.net)

Indoor plant sales boom, reflecting urbanisation and design (theguardian.com)

4 Comments Add yours

  1. You’ve got an interesting post here Sonyboy. I’ve also grown my plants from 5 or so pots of herbs to now more than 20. Pineapple, interesting choice! 🙂 — Amor

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for saying the pineapple is an interesting choice! And, of course, for the kind words. Would have love planting herbs but I think they’re going to require more maintenance efforts 😀 you gave me something to think about…

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Hahaha, so far you and my mom are the only people I know who grow pineapple 🙂

        Like

      2. 🙂 Been forcing my friends to do the same hahaha

        Liked by 1 person

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