Ahead of his appearance at Gardeners’ World Live 2019, Evie Kissack chats to Michael Perry (a.k.a. Mr Plant Geek) about freelance gardening, podcasts, and – of course - all things plants!

 

You’ll be attending BBC Gardeners’ World Live this summer. Are you looking forward to the event?

Yes, it seems like a real event for every day gardeners. It is very achievable and with a great range of products that are truly useful.


What is the highlight of GWL for you? What experts are you most looking forward to see?

I really enjoy the ‘how-to’ events, especially ones where they are being creative, perhaps up-cycling containers and such. I also really enjoy the floral marquee, and usually run there first before it gets too busy!


What does your job as Plant Hunter for Thompson & Morgan involve?

I’ve now been freelance for more than two years, but my experience with Thompson and Morgan of introducing brand new plants was absolutely amazing. I’m quite famous for plants such as the ‘Egg and Chips plant’ and the ‘Fuchsia Berry’; plants that get people sitting up and taking notice!


How did you first get into gardening? When did you decide you wanted to become a plant guru as a career?

Since a very young age, my feet were set in stone it seems. I was gardening with my grandparents from a very young age, and it just went on from there - running a herb nursery when I was a teenager and joining my first mail-order part company job at just 18-years-old. 


You’re an advocate for plastic-free gardening. What are the best ways to go eco-friendly in the garden and cut out plastic waste?

Many Gardeners probably have a lot of plastic pots already - don’t be hysterical and throw them away of course, make sure that you keep on using them. They will last for years, just make sure that you have disinfected them at the end of each season, and wash them in hot water.


In recent years, sadly, bee populations have decreased in number and size. Throughout the spring months, what plants can help to support bee colonies?

That’s a good point, a lot of people forget about these during the winter and the spring. By growing a wider range of plants, you can help the bees with those nectar sources. Hyacinths are a particularly good choice for spring, as is Daphne, the famous shrub.


What gardening jobs do you recommend for this month? 

It’s time to start getting outside and thinking about what you’re going to plan, and it’s also a good idea to move any established plants before they start to grow too swiftly. For those with a small garden or living in city-based apartments and urban areas, it can be difficult to utilise the minimal outdoor space to create a garden. What plants or vegetables are perfect for growing on balconies or windowsills?
Vegetables in particular are great for urban growing, and small spaces. Remember, chilli plants don’t take much space, bush tomatoes, a range of different fruit and vegetables can be grown in raised containers around the balcony too. Windowsills can be filled with herbs, sprouting seeds, and ‘cut and come again’ salad crops.


Indoor plants are becoming an increasingly popular trend. Do you have any recommendations for brightening up the home with greenery? 

Make sure you choose the right plant for the right room, but once you’ve got that right, the world really is your oyster. Don’t overwater, always water from below, and avoid drafts as much as possible.


Your blog and social media page is very accessible, and encourages plant newbies to get involved with gardening (like me!). How has social media impacted your outreach, and what response have you found from your posts?


Social media is everything. It’s like my shop window, it’s where I show what I can do. Whether that is for people scouting for flower show lectures and demonstrations, or gardeners at home looking for inspiration and a much more accessible route to growing their first plants.




You also have a podcast for plant lovers and collaborate with fellow plant addict Ellen Mary! How did this idea first come about?

Because we both love plants! Plants is all we ever talk about. So, this podcast is opening up the plant-based world much, much wider, we talk about plant-based fabrics, plant-based diet, specialist plants, and of course easier ways to garden.

How would you describe the podcast for those that haven’t heard it yet? 

We have managed to set a really nice relaxed tone, where we blend knowledge with a relaxed humour. We have really enjoyed interviewing everyone, and we hope that they enjoyed us as well.


How do you choose what topics to discuss on the podcast?

Plants, plants, plants!


What are your thoughts on the potential for plants to positively impact our health? Do you think nature has an important role to play in our general wellbeing?

Absolutely, just touching compost releases good feeling in your mind. Not to mention the colour and fragrance of the flowers growing in your garden. It could even be if your houseplants, which will help to purify the air in some way. Connect with nature, and you will start to see the benefits in every area of your life. 

 

Grab tickets for BBC Gardeners' World Live 2019 online now - click the link here to book and for more information. 

www.mrplantgeek.com

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