Living on the fourth floor of a block of flats made gardening precarious. While my Balham flats had a communal garden, it was not the same as having your own begonias or clematis to tend to; if you were to become Percy Thrower, you were restricted to indoor plants.
Consequently, we had a flat with more plants in than Kew Gardens.
With my mother suffering from arachnophobia, we didn’t own spider plants, nor did we have anything made out of macramé as mother didn’t like pasta. We did, however, have cheese plants (even though most family members were lactose intolerant).
Aspidistras were few and far between as this was thought this was a child’s illness which gives you a sore throat and fever; rubber plants were acceptable as mum believed these acted as a form of contraception (constantly reading books past midnight on indoor plants ensured I remained an only child).
Indoor plants are designed to be fairly indestructible, however, if you’re a teenage boy, the leaves make a very good camouflage hat in case the Nazis invaded again and a father who’d once seen a documentary on Fidel Castro and thought he could make a fortune selling cigars made from mother-in-law’s tongue.
But the most exotic plant in our flat was the Venus Flytrap – not wonderfully pretty, but we saved a fortune on tins of Raid.