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Meet the gay guy whose love of gardening has gone global

Meet the gay guy whose love of gardening has gone global

Where does my love of plants and gardening come from? My grandparents, who passed away when I was in my 20s, babysat for me a lot as a child, and I took on their interest in plants, gardening and local shows from a young age. I wonder if they were into something different, if I would’ve been! One of my favorite flowers to this day is an iris, because I remember painting one onto a stone with my Nana when I was younger.

I was ashamed of it through high school. It’s harder at the age to be an individual. But it was also partly linked to sexuality, because I was afraid to be seen as interested in things that are softer, or being called a pansy. At school I developed this ‘laying low’ attitude. My and my friend separated off. So I’d hide it, and then be in the shed and the greenhouse all weekend.

These days, you can be more individual. Social media has been a great lubricant for people being more individual and learning from other people – their hobbies, interests.

At 18, straight from college, I started working for Thompson Morgan [a plant company based in Ipswich], where I worked for 18 years, from apprentice to product developer and more. It’s the only job I’ve ever had, apart from being freelance. I’ve introduced about 500 plants to the UK as a whole.

I was encouraged to do a little bit of promotion for some of them, so I started appearing on the Alan Titchmarsh Show, QVC and then a public profile began to grow organically.

Now, I want to inspire people to enjoy plants in the same way I do. So TV presenting, work with websites, social media, podcasts, product development, lecturing demonstrations, visiting companies around the world and traveling everywhere from Japan to the US! And also working on my website, Mr Plant Geek.

I get a mixture of reactions to what I do from other gay men. None of them are negative. Some of them are incredibly enthusiastic if you know what I mean! But it’s not necessarily about sexuality. I don’t deny my sexuality, but I’m not like ‘hi, I’m a gay gardener’ – but at some point, someone who follows me on social media might find out that I’m gay.

My boyfriend is a designer – it’s funny because we complement each other quite well. He’s the one behind the design of my branding. We moved into a place last year and have a lot of houseplants, which he cares for when I’m on the move.

My love of plants and gardening has now led me to become an official ambassador for Garden Day which takes place for the first time nationwide on Sunday 12 May. It’s a day for encouraging people to spend time with nature and plants. Whether that’s in your own gardens, perhaps in a friend’s garden, or even a local park or botanic garden. Or, if you haven’t got access to a garden, house plants, window boxes – just engaging with plants on whatever level.

Doing so is good for wellbeing. This has been proven by research from the NHS in collaboration with the Royal Horticulture Society. From putting plants in patient recovery rooms to houseplants helping to purify the air by producing more oxygen, plants are good for us. It’s the same with natural sounds – like running water, forest sounds for example – helping us relax. It also encourages more external, as well as internal thoughts.

For more information about Garden Day, click here. For more information about Michael, click here.

See also

Get your green thumb out for World Naked Gardening Day

IKEA designs flat-pack indoor garden to grow your own food