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How the Chelsea Flower Show will be different this year with Canterbury presenter Mark Lane

This year's Chelsea Flower Show may have been cancelled, but that doesn't mean its spirit isn't alive and well.

Instead, presenters including Canterbury-based BBC Gardeners' World presenter and award-winning garden designer Mark Lane, will be fronting TV coverage from their own gardens.

Canterbury-based gardening expert Mark Lane
Canterbury-based gardening expert Mark Lane

Armed with his phone and a tripod, Mark, who has been in a wheelchair for 20 years following a car accident, has been recording from his home near Bramling for the series which airs from Sunday, May 17 to Sunday, May 24 on BBC One and Two.

Mark has also been filming gardening tips and live advice clinics via his social media channels, documenting the challenges of gardening during lockdown.

"The BBC have researched the last 10 years of filming from Chelsea and picked the best and most beautiful, so it's the best bits plus us all self-shooting in our gardens. I'm going to be talking about the hostas in my garden, naturalistic planning, and giving some ideas you can take home and do. It will be completely different, but it will also feel almost like the Chelsea Flower Show."

He admitted that he would miss the show and meeting his fellow presenters, but said: "We know that the audiences are still crying out for this show. Six out of 10 people now are doing more gardening than they ever did before lockdown. This will still feel like Chelsea we think."

Mark filming at home near Canterbury
Mark filming at home near Canterbury

He added of filming at home: "We are fortunate to have all this technology now. Thirty years ago it would have been a lot more difficult. The audience realise that we are in lockdown and it might not be quite right in places."

For his online clinics, he has found lots of people asking questions who are new to gardening and wondering where to start.

"It is tricky because it's been difficult to get out and get plants, but you can buy them online and you should support our nurseries. You also have to think outside the box - I have been growing my own."

He said his greenhouse had been the best thing about lockdown for him. "I don't think I have spent as much time in the greenhouse as I have recently. I have got more time so I have grown more veg; there's always something to do in the greenhouse."

"It is important at the moment to take time out as the garden is revving up now, and for your mental health and wellbeing you should take time to sit outside and be mindful and slow your breathing."

Mark's garden has had a lot of TLC during lockdown Picture: Malcolm L
Mark's garden has had a lot of TLC during lockdown Picture: Malcolm L

If you're looking out at your garden or outside space and wondering where to begin, here are Mark's top tips:

1. Make a plan.

"People rush in and try to do everything in one go. Take 20 minutes to think about what you want to achieve and then rest for 10 minutes and think about it."

2. Focus on one thing at a time.

"Focus on one area at a time, whether it's doing the lawn or a bed, and don't get distracted. Get your tools together first - just trimming the edges of the lawn can make everything look better."

3. Have a good spruce up.

"Get rid of any debris and pick up those old leaves where slugs and snails will hide. If it's been hot, water the plants and take your time. If you've got a balcony or terrace give it a sweep; group your pots together and clean up the furniture and put a few scatter cushions and a throw out and then sit back and enjoy it."

Princess Charlotte at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in the garden designed by her mother Picture: Kensington Palace
Princess Charlotte at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in the garden designed by her mother Picture: Kensington Palace

Catch Mark every Saturday at 11am via YouTube and also on Twitter and Instagram (@MarkLaneTV). His new book Royal Gardens of the World is published this autumn, exploring 21 of the world’s most celebrated gardens.

The Chelsea Flower Show is also going online with daily videos; interactive Q&A sessions and behind-the-scenes tours; vote for your favourite plants and a daily School Gardening Club. Go to rhs.org.uk/shows-events

Watch virtual garden tours with the National Gardens Scheme here.


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