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Mark Lane….on 2 types of Gardener

This week’s guest blogger:

Mark Lane

He writes:

No matter what level of ability you have there is a gardening task that you can undertake.                    Being the UK’s first garden designer and BBC gardening presenter who uses a wheelchair full-time, I really want to show how gardening can help both physically and mentally. For me, I suffered with depression for many years and still have the ‘spectre of depression’ sitting on my shoulder, but by being outside, getting my hands into the soil, which releases endorphins in the brain and serotonin, I start to improve my mental health. Rubbing soil within the palm of your hand and between the fingers can help with manual dexterity. By thinking about what to sow or grow, planning pots for autumn or the spring, or creating a new border you stimulate the neurons in your brain.

Garden tools have come a long way, and there are some great ergonomic ones and tools specially designed for individuals who live with weak wrists or are unable to clutch a tool. I would always recommend trying out tools before you buy. Make sure they feel good when you use them, are lightweight and well-made.

There are two types of gardener – an active gardener who continually gardens and loves sowing, planting, planning and creating; the other is a passive gardener who enjoys sitting back and enjoying a garden and the feeling that the space creates, the scents, colours and the wellbeing benefits of being outdoors. It doesn’t matter which type you are, whether you garden alone or garden as a social activity the knack is finding a gardening task that you can do. Pace yourself and at regular intervals just sit in your garden, whether it be a patio, a balcony, a few window boxes or a rolling estate and enjoy nature at its best.

Gardening and garden design has changed my life for the better, and with TV and radio work I feel extremely lucky. 

Mark Lane







Alan Titchmarsh offers sage advice about.. ‘having a go’!

Alan Titchmarsh offers sage advice….about ‘having a go’…..

He writes:

When I started my working life as a gardener back in the 1960s I had few aspirations, other than to spend my life growing plants. Sixty years on I can look back on a career – and a good deal of leisure time – when I have done just that.

But when other opportunities come your way – attractive opportunities – it seems churlish to turn them down. So it is that I have managed a career that has encompassed presenting music programmes, interviewing members of the royal family, hosting a chat show and writing novels. I say this not boastfully, but only to encourage others to have a go. All too often we remain focussed on a primary goal and are blinkered when it comes to recognising unexpected opportunities that come from left of field.

I’ve been so lucky in my life and work, but when I said this to my next-door neighbour he said ‘That’s funny. I find the harder I work, the luckier I get.’ Up to a point, yes…but we still need people who can see in us things that we don’t always see ourselves. I am about to embark on a publicity tour (dreadful phrase) for my eleventh novel ‘The Scarlet Nightingale’. Eleven! How did that happen? Well, back in the late 1990s I had an idea for a story about a television gardener (always write about what you know, they say). That first novel was called ‘Mr MacGregor’. And then I had another idea… I write about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances – perhaps that, too, is a result of personal experience. But gardening continues to be my first love, and the thing I do every day in my Hampshire garden, or a patch of earth on the Isle of Wight where we have a bolt hole.I know I’ve been lucky and, yes, I do work hard. But the luckiest people in life are those who discover where their own particular talents lie, and who encounter ‘ the enablers’ – people who will encourage them when their own confidence is not up to the job. That’s what happened to me. I hope I’ve been generous spirited enough to do the same for others.

Alan Titchmarsh