Consolation plants

| Niels ter Meer

Niels ter Meer (23) is a fourth-year student of Mechanical Engineering. Besides his studies, he occupies himself with his obscure music and plant collections. Every other week, he writes about his thoughts on life at the university.


Studying… is hard. And not just engaging with the material – I certainly won’t deny that – but also everything around the process: running a household, dating, activism, etc., etc. A recipe for frustration. So sometimes you need to practice some self-care. For some, this includes shoveling buckets of ice-cream into their mouths while watching Netflix on their couch, some go gaming, others go anxiety shopping, and other-others resort to alcohol. For me, the Ivermectin of my self-care routine is a trip to the Intratuin.

The Intratuin is basically Ikea for plants. It’s laid out the exact same way, as to extract as much profit from the poor customers as possible. But also, because of that, you can walk around and browse there for ages. They have something on offer for everyone: small plants, big plants, prickly plants, soft plants, green plants, and purple plants – even barbecues apparently! The only difference between Intratuin and Ikea is that it’s close (I’m not cycling all the way to the back of Hengelo) and that at times I actually need something from there.

So a while ago when I had a particularly hard time, with the excuse of ‘I need to ask some questions about my Laurel’ in hand (as to not feel too guilty about not studying), I set off to the Intratuin.

After I asked my question to a staff member and had a little chat with him – of course I bragged about my black pepper – it was off to the houseplants section. Initially just to browse, but at some point I spotted two small plants, which I immediately decided were mine (a string of pearls and a pancake plant for those interested). Consolation plants, if you will.

Somewhat absentmindedly I walked back to my cart with them in hand, or at least to what my tired brain thought was my cart. Why did it have purple plants; I didn’t pick those? But it was a young woman’s cart, who was at the Intratuin for a similar reason.

Those purple plants turned out to be her consolation plants. ‘They last a lot longer than a couple of shots in town,’ she argued. I couldn’t disagree with that. We talked about our collection, and our fondness of (clandestinely) taking cuttings for propagation. We overshared our frustrations with our studies, the housing market, J.K. Rowling, and being ghosted by our dates. Before we went our separate ways, she asked for my number.

I haven’t heard from her since though – ironic, I know. It makes me kind of sad, but self-care is not always just about plants. Sometimes you just need to vent to a stranger – it still puts a smile on my face to this day. At least my Laurel and my cuttings are doing well. And of course I still have a tub of tasty ice-cream in the freezer and a laptop with a Netflix account ready to go.

Stay tuned

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