10 Years Of Modern Mint

On Valentine’s day this year (2024) Modern Mint, the company I started when I moved to Essex to explore a fresh, contemporary approach to gardening, will be 10 years old.

The cliche is time flies… but it does! So much has happened in a decade, from studying topiary with Charlotte Molesworth, to clipping all over the UK (and eventually in the USA and Sweden) to selling shears and secateurs at garden shows and hiding away my reticence to give talks about gardening and topiary to Horticultural Societies across the UK.

Ten years feels a good time to mark a new change.

We have just moved to Whitby on the North Yorkshire coast (after an exhausting search and process to find a home) and so this year I will be focusing on the following for Modern Mint:

  • Share the Craft of Topiary – pruning method, plants to use, tools you need, skills to shape plants or clip with to a perfect facade… sharing all the stuff people need to know.
  • Exploring the Art of Topiary – the use of abstract techniques to generate form, composition of a view, discovering narrative from the study of a landscape… the intangible parts of topiary and design that begets the joy in life, but is harder to measure or quantify.

Now, the one element topiary always needs is time. Ten years of Modern Mint – and topiary is a commitment on this scale too. Look at these pines I have just planted in the garden at our new place in Whitby…

Tiny and a little inconsequential… right now…. but time is needed for them to become the characters they will become.

And what about these yews? Cut back hard 50 years ago. Just bare sticks…

But look at them now!

Extraordinary to look at (and to work on every summer, of course! You can see more shots of this clipping I do here in a short video…)

So ten years has passed since I started Modern Mint. I heard a phrase recently – you overestimate how much you can do in a year, but underestimate how much you can achieve in a decade – looking at the ten years that have passed so fast, that feels true… but I can see the life spent is something to celebrate… from here on the Yorkshire coast.

And for more on how I will share the Craft of Topiary in 2024, visit the Teaching page.


EBTS Boxwood Growers Forum

Through the European Boxwood and Topiary Society I worked with Chris Poole and Sue Mesher, members of the EBTS board, and we set up a Boxwood Growers Forum. This was to discuss how to make sure this wonderful topiary plant stays in the public conscioussness – we know many growers, suppliers and distributors have stopped selling it as the cost of replacing boxwood that has blight, or is nibbled by the boxwood caterpillar, makes it unviable to offer to clients and gardeners. But Boxwood is a phoenix plant, and there are ways to deal with the problems associated with Buxus. …



Modern Topiarist @ Garden Masterclass Poland

My video on Modern Topiary for Garden Masterclass has been translated into Polish, for the keen gardeners (and happy pruners!) of Garedn Masterclass in Poland. Tickets for the first showing and q and a were available here. But it will become available on the Garden Masterclass Poland website at some point in the near future – so if you are a keen clipper and want to know more, but speak Polish and not English, then I suggest you visit the website and get watching. (Of course, if you don’t speak English, you may not be able to read this…. hmmm… …



Topiary Hotline

The European Boxwood & Topiary Society are to run a Topiary Hotline for keen gardeners and people who love to clip. Date is tomorrow, April 16th 2024, and you can get a ticket for the Zoom meeting here – Topiary Hotline. Run by Chris Poole and myself, we set this up as an antidote to the huge amount of questions we have to answer about topiary throughout the summer. The plus is that their is an excitement around topiary and pruning. The problem is we need to help people in a better way… … so we will be giving people …