Through the Garden Gate: Behold the Snake Plant – Farmville

Through the Garden Gate: Behold the Snake Plant

Published 10:25 am Saturday, November 11, 2023

Many years ago, everyone’s front parlor had one. It sat in a dark corner in that cold, seldom-used room where it was definitely out of sight and out of mind. Dust collected on its leaves.  The soil in its container was ancient and probably devoid of nutrients. The poor thing was seldom watered and yet it clung to life, not thriving, but not dying either. What was it? The snake plant or mother-in-law’s tongue (Dracaena trifasciata; formerly Sansevieria trifasciata).

I had forgotten about the snake plant until this summer when I saw a tall, glossy one by my neighbor’s front door. And it was blooming! She casually remarked that she’d had it for ages and that it bloomed every summer. She simply kept it inside during winter and, then in late spring, repotted half the plant in fresh soil and put it outside by the front door. Simple.

Who knew that the snake plant bloomed! Since then, I’ve learned that the snake plant is the trendy new house plant that’s purported to improve the feng shui of a room and even to work as an air purifier. According to NASA, the previously much maligned snake plant can remove various toxic chemicals, such as formaldehyde, benzene, xylene, and trichloroethylene, from the air.  Using Crassulacean Acid Metabolism, a special type of photosynthesis, the snake plant also continues to take in carbon dioxide and emit oxygen at night. Only a few other plants do this. 

As our grandmas knew, the snake plant is easy to grow. Plant it in soil that drains readily and use a sturdy container that won’t tip

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Gardening jobs in August: what to plant and tidy in your garden this month

The fruit garden 

It is time to cut down any raspberry canes that have already borne fruit this summer. Summer fruiting raspberries bear fruit on new growth, and so there is no purpose in keeping the old ones hanging around. Cut them down flush with the ground, and then select up to eight of the new canes that have been produced this summer, and tie them in, along horizontal wires, cutting the rest back to ground level. The chosen ones will bear fruit next summer. 


Houseplants can suffer when you are away on holiday, particularly now, during the warmest month of the year. If you are going to be away for a few days then just give them a good watering before you go, but for any longer you should move them into one place together, ideally a cool, north facing room where they will not get too much direct sunlight. Make sure each has a saucer. Grouped like this they will help to create a moist microclimate and prevent excessive evaporation. If going for more than a week you could group them together in the bath and fill it with a couple of inches of cold water. 

Flowering shrubs 

This is the month that rhododendrons and camellias begin to form the flower buds that will bloom next spring, and if it happens to coincide with a dry spell, fewer will be formed and you will have a less impressive spring display. It is worth watering them well even if there has been rain, and whether they are growing in pots or in the ground (though it is even more important in pots) as their dense growth can stop rain from easily reaching the roots. 


Take ‘semi-ripe’ cuttings of woody herbs such as rosemary, thyme,

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