5 May 2020
The boyfriend and I have a mint plant baby. Her name is Mandy. And she is glorious!
I moved into my new flat with the boyfriend nine weeks ago. Two weeks later the nation went into lockdown. This is the first time I’ve lived with a partner and I feel pretty confident in describing the whole experience as a baptism of fire! It’s a baptism of fire that has brought out some of the stranger behaviours in us both, including caring for a mint plant like our lives depend on it.
Around the time lockdown was announced - somewhere between people wrestling over the last loo roll and shops starting the one-in one-out initiative - the boyfriend and I braved a 7am trip to our local Sainsbury’s.
It was there that, among the bare shelves of the fruit and veg aisle, that I spotted a single lonesome mint plant. It was the kind you find near the pre-packaged stir fry, in its little pot surrounded by plastic and looking worse for wear.
It was staring up at me and, fuelled by panic-buying mania, I snapped it up, convinced that a small mint plant was an essential item. Forget flour and eggs, how were we going to survive the next few months without fresh mint? It didn’t bear thinking about. We needed that plant.
Like many people, my history with store-bought potted herbs is one of brief dalliances, cut short by sudden and untimely deaths - however hard I tried! So, despite how necessary I believed the mint plant was, I didn’t want to get too attached.
I waited for the leaves to wilt, turn yellow, and whither away, but no! We were shocked to discover that bathing in the sunlight on our kitchen worktop this plant flourished! And as she flourished, so did our hopes. Mandy, as she was then christened, continued to stretch up and out and heartily drank up her daily water.
In a former life (aka before lockdown), between five days a week at the office, evenings at the pub, and weekends away with friends, our plants easily went neglected. However, with our daily commutes banned and social life cancelled, Mandy certainly wasn’t at risk of being neglected, but rather at risk of being spoilt rotten - literally!
But our Mandy is sturdy and, whether it was the ‘cabin fever’ or the adrenalin high from finally keeping a kitchen herb alive, it wasn’t long until our care for the mint plant reached levels of genuine fondness. We began asking questions like ‘How’s Mands doing?’ with actual sincerity.
Quick side note: it should go without saying that we do not have any children or pets. Just the fact I have enough time to write a blog post dedicated to a mint plant should make that clear…
After a month or so of care and attention, Mandy had flourished so well that she was beginning to out-grow the small tub she had arrived in all those many many weeks ago when we’d first brought her home. Her growth, combined with the boyfriend’s increasing demand for a fresh mint tea on a weekend morning, meant something had to be done!
It was decided. It was time for Mandy to move onto the next stage of her herby life. Mandy was to graduate from the kitchen and take her place on the patio. With all the care and support he could summon - plus some compost we purchased especially - the boyfriend moved Mandy into her new pot just outside the backdoor, on a beautiful sunny day.
Sadly rain and storms hit almost immediately and lasted a few days. Inside the warmth and dry of our new flat, we exchanged concerned looks and asked whichever one of us was closest to the window for updates on Mandy’s wellbeing.
You’ll be surprised - or just indifferent - to hear that Mandy wore out the storm, was absolutely fine, and continues to thrive in her new home. Our unnecessary enthusiasm for a simple herb also continues. I even caught the boyfriend cheerfully ask ‘You alright, Mands?’ when he stepped out onto the patio the other day, as if greeting a mate at the pub.
It gets worse. We took a clipping from our beloved mint plant and have successfully grown a tiny Mandy 2.0, who has now taken up residence in the same sunny spot in the kitchen as her predecessor. They say parents worry they won’t be able to love their first mint plant as much as their second. But we’ve got a lot more lockdown ahead of us and a lot of free time to spend caring for kitchen herbs.
…Barry basil is looking a bit neglected though, mind.