Blooming into season: Plants at home refresh students, teachers


Andrew Burke-Stevenson

Nature has been an escape from Zoom and after walking in her garden, she feels refreshed and reset, according librarian Susan Augustine.

Grace Holleb, Features Editor

By springtime, Susan Augustine’s 20-by-30-foot garden will be filled with 300 bulbs of tulips and dozens of allium plus crocus and daffodil flowers. Since the pandemic, she has also added raised beds for tomatoes and other vegetables ready to sprout. 

White, black and red raspberries will be growing, and the rare Japanese herb shiso will be ready to be picked daily for meals. Window boxes and house plants are placed throughout Ms. Augustine’s house. 

Due to the sometimes suffocating and mundane character of the pandemic, Ms. Augustine, high school librarian, and students like Susan Huang have turned to plants to brighten their days and add a refreshing sense of life in their environments.  

Ever since she was younger, Ms. Augustine has always surrounded herself with plants.  

“I grew up with a big garden in the backyard, and we would pick all the vegetables you wanted for dinner,” Ms. Augustine said. 

In the summer, she usually travels and doesn’t have the resources to keep up with an extensive garden. This year was different, and she found the area of weeds in her backyard calling her name to be repurposed. 

“We chopped it all down and put cardboard, three inches of mulch, and planted 50 different plants, rayed beds for vegetables and herbs,” Ms. Augustine said. 

In the fall, Ms. Augustine found herself walking through her garden to take a break from Zoom and to do a little weeding or pick some flowers for the house.

“Nature is the antidote to Zoom,” Ms. Augustine said. “I would do that and it gave me a real sense of escape.”

Likewise, Susan’s self-proclaimed plant fanaticism blossomed during the pandemic and bought her first house plant in June.

“It was kind of a way to bring the outside in, when you couldn’t really go outside,” Susan said. 

She has found a sense of responsibility from watering and fertilizing her plants daily. 

“Nature in general and just being outside is really good for mental health,” Susan said. “With all my plants I feel like I’m outside, and my room is kind of a jungle. It just makes me feel happier.” 

For both Ms. Augustine and Susan, plants have brought a smile through a time when happiness was not at all a prominent theme. 

“The fall used to be my favorite season, but now it’s the spring,” Ms. Augustine said. “Seeing everything come up, it’s just so beautiful and it’s such a hopeful thing — especially during the pandemic.”