25 Apr At Home With Greg Mark
We have recently worked with Greg Mark from Gregory Mark Landscapes on a project in Johannesburg and it was just incredible to watch the garden take shape from a building site to a veritable oasis!
Gregory Mark Landscapes is a bespoke garden-design and turnkey landscaping company, specialising in residential gardens. With a portfolio of work throughout the country, he has been terraforming gardens all over South Africa for over 20 years. Greg says, “I have been gardening all my life, first as a young child playing in the mud and now creating some of South Africa’s finest residential/commercial garden spaces!”
Here is Greg on bringing green into the house – in more ways than one!
Q: Let’s start at the very beginning: What did you want to be when you grew up? And what did you study?
A: I grew up in subtropical Durban. I wanted to be a few things: Entomologist, a farmer, or an artist comes first to mind. I ended up studying Landscape Technology at Natal Technicon.
Q: Where did your creative journey begin and when did you realize this was your calling? Did you have a “big break”?
A: I have been working in the green industry for over 20 years now but have been gardening all my life. Growing up in subtropical Durban was the ideal climate for growing plants. My father was a keen gardener and I fondly remember how we would forage the neighbourhood on summer afternoon walks, taking cuttings from plants and making slips from neighbouring gardens. It was a different time and that’s how a lot of our parents grew up – gardening and sharing the different varieties available. My father’s side of the family was great gardeners and plant collectors and that is where my love for plants began. I don’t think my big break happened until I relocated to Johannesburg. I have had the privilege to work with some of South Africa’s finest architects, and tradesmen.
Q: What have been some of your biggest challenges in getting to where you are now, and how did you over come them?
A: One of my biggest challenges was relocating from tropical Durban to Johannesburg. But after experiencing my first Joburg thunderstorm I knew I was home. Moving here some 10 years ago was in some way learning how to garden again and learning that the Highveld can grow beautiful plants too. I love the wide varieties of ornamental grasses and diverse plants here that are so different from what I was used to growing up in Durban. Having my own small garden at home has helped me try and test out plants for performance in clients’ gardens. I don’t like to recommend plants that I do not have experience growing myself.
Q: What advice would you give to someone just starting out on their creative journey?
A: Find what you love and you will never work a day in your life. As a creative, learn to wear many different hats and don’t limit yourself to just one discipline.
Q: Tell us about the picture you have sent us? What is special for you in this area of your home?
A: This is my kitchen sink. It’s where we all spend so much of our time! I should have different pots filled with interchangeable herbs for snipping off sprigs of parsley and coriander for the kitchen, but I am not the best chef – something I am challenging myself to change during the lockdown period! I have, instead of potted herbs, used a collection of low maintenance, easy to grow, ornamental houseplants to brighten up my kitchen. The Epipremnum Aureum (Scindapsus Aureus or Devil’s Ivy) is very easy to grow and can go on for years with minimal work and effort. Just remember to water your houseplants!
Q: What are you doing at home to keep busy? Is there anything you have taken on to challenge yourself during this time?
A: We have been working on some exciting new design concepts for new gardens that we can install as soon as lockdown period is over.
At home I have painted my bathrooms and home office a beautiful shade of green because a change is also as good as a holiday. I have even been challenging myself to play guitar (badly) again after many years, and learning to cook delicious, healthy new recipes.
Q: How has the pandemic affected your business, and do you see your business changing out of this experience?
A: The world has changed forever. We are all spending more time at home connecting with our health, our loved ones and ourselves. I, personally, have started to drink more fresh juices and to stretch more. We are adapting to the more virtual approach that businesses are taking to client liaison, designs and presentations. There has been a big demand for incorporating food gardens into existing gardens and bringing the outdoors inside with houseplants, to bring nature into our homes.
Q: What is the best advice you have ever received, either professionally or personally?
A: “Be who you are and say what you feel because Those who mind, don’t matter and those who matter, don’t mind.” – Dr Seuss