Anyone that’s into gardening knows who Mark Lane is. Mark is the first BBC gardening presenter in a wheelchair and you will have seen him on BBC Morning Live, BBC Gardeners’ World and the RHS Flower shows. He’s also a garden expert presenter on QVC and is the UK’s first garden designer in a wheelchair.
We were lucky enough to welcome Mark to PlantGrow and we showed him the patented PlantGrow process.
He kindly answered a few questions for us – find out more about his achievements, how he got into gardening and what he thinks of us below.
Firstly, tell us a little bit more about yourself and what you love.
“I have always loved wildlife and nature, and today my passion for plants and outdoor spaces is my career, which I love. Every day is different. I also write regularly for Garden News magazine, Platinum magazine, Grow Your Own magazine, Waitrose Weekend and for the national press on gardening and garden design. Within my garden design practice, Mark Lane Designs, we place a strong emphasis on creating gardens with a sense of place and space, which are sustainable and rich in biodiversity. I have also been shortlisted for Celebrity of the Year 2021 in the National Diversity Awards.”
How did gardening and landscaping become such a big part of your life?
“When I was a child, I grew up in an apartment in Hove, but both sets of grandparents had large gardens. My paternal grandfather taught me about caring for the soil, pruning, sowing seeds and how to generally care for your plants, while my paternal grandmother was a flower arranger, so she taught me about how to put colours, shapes, textures and forms together.
My maternal grandparents had a rose garden so we would regularly rub off greenfly, pick up grotty leaves and prune the roses, so my love for plants and gardening started 40+ years ago. When I left university, I went into publishing, and had a meteoric rise to become the Publishing Director for the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Managing Editor for Thames & Hudson, the leading international Arts publisher.
Then in 2000 I was in a car crash, and this resulted in me using a wheelchair full-time. I therefore retrained as a garden designer, passed with distinction in 18 months (even though the course was for 3 years) and my garden design practice grew from there. We are now a multi-award-winning practice, voted Most Innovative Landscape Designer 2021.”
What did you think of us and our process here at PlantGrow?
“I was really looking forward to seeing the PlantGrow process, having already tried out some of the products, so when we arrived and met with Ashley and Steve I felt like a child again. I was fascinated to see how a natural plant-based fertiliser could be produced from a renewable energy process. Both Ashley and Steve are so passionate about their work and very proud of their sustainable credentials – and rightly so. The huge ‘piles’ of different plant tissues was astonishing. There was an area that we couldn’t see (trade secret!), but this just added to the excitement.”
What did you like most about your visit?
“Meeting two people who are passionate about their work, their company and the products, and learning about the additional work they are doing to improve people’s gardens and lives.”
What are your thoughts on organic gardening?
“I urge every gardener to garden organically. We have seen declines in bees and other beneficial pollinators and experienced the devastating effects of using pesticides and herbicides on our natural world, which quite frankly is shocking and sickening. It makes sense to feed the soil with plant material as these are packed with micronutrients that growing plants need. My grandfather was a strong believer in organic and sustainable gardening back in the 70s, when most gardeners were not, and his teaching has stayed with me to this day.”
What advice would you give to someone about being sustainable?
“The word ‘sustainable’ might seem terrifying, but the practice of maintaining a garden so that natural resources are not exhausted is easy to do. Pests are controlled by beneficial predators, water should be collected and stored, and peat should never be used as peat bogs are diminishing in their natural environments, and it takes years to regrow. Therefore, if a product and company comes along, like PlantGrow, which produces electricity during the process and produces environmental, natural, sustainable and peat-free products then it makes sense to use their products.”
What do you think about our products?
“The 900L natural fertiliser is amazing. I used it as a top dressing to an area of the garden under a silver birch tree and while plants grew there before, this year the plants are twice the size and healthy, with rich green leaves and more flowers. The worms and other soil-based creatures have started to work the fertiliser into the lower strata of soil, and the number of worms in this area has also increased, which is a bonus. I look forward to using the other products, especially the slug and snail repellent.”
If you could give PlantGrow any advice for the future, what would it be?
“To continue what you’re doing! I look forward to seeing your products in more stores across the UK, and I know that once gardeners start using them they will continue to use them.”
We were so happy to show Mark around PlantGrow HQ, even if we couldn’t let him in on all of the secrets! We know that our products are a game-changer for lots of gardeners and we hope that if more renowned gardeners and garden designers show their results, we can show everyone that organic gardening is the way forward. Mark left us with a fantastic statement that should encourage any gardener, novice or experienced, to try PlantGrow products:
“PlantGrow ticks all the boxes. It’s a natural plant-based fertiliser from a renewable energy process. If you are looking for peat-free, natural, sustainable and chemical-free soil conditioners, feed and fertilisers, which I urge every gardener to use, then I am confident that you will be happy with the results and will be amazed at how well your garden grows.”