Digital-first businesses like Sproutl and Patch not only look completely different to ‘heritage’ gardening brands, they behave differently as well.
Older generations of gardeners, like my mum, know practically everything about the arcane art of plant care. But an audience of younger enthusiasts are finding new ways of tapping into knowledge – including apps, plant influencers, and a raft of brands using design to attract plant lovers. Interest has boomed in recent years, as evidenced by newcomers including houseplant provider Patch Plants, plant subscription service BloomBox Club and plant marketplace Sproutl. All are tapping into this new demographic.
As Noel-Johnson says, Covid prompted many of us to bring more greenery into our homes, but the renewed enthusiasm for plants was happening long before lockdown. Hollie Newton, Sproutl’s chief creative officer, describes plants and gardening as the “absolute antidote” to the stress of modern life. “When I was doing 80-hour weeks in advertising, there was that moment where you’d water a tomato and switch off, and the brain can do its thing in the background and it soothes the soul,” she jokes.
My mum knows the Latin names for – at a conservative estimate – every plant on the planet. You’ll be out for a walk, or at the pub, or just minding your own business watching TV and she’ll suddenly interject: “Look! That’s an unpronounceablus latinnameus!”, or words to that effect. She’s been doing this as long as I can remember and I’ve totally failed to absorb any of the knowledge. To put it in perspective, me and my boyfriend have collectively killed a whole forest worth of plants, and I still couldn’t tell you their Latin names.