THE MODERN MINT BLOG
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.
In 2022 I did a free video for Garden Masterclass, the Annie Guilfoyle and Noel Kingsley run website that is a treasure trove of the great and good of the horticultural world – well worth looking through all the wonderful talks they have available, like meadow-maker James Hitchmough or nurserywoman Rosy Hardy. They are certainly inspirational! Perfect for watching and dreaming up new ideas during the winter months… As a follow-up to my Topiary Provocations video (which you can see on Youtube for free) I was asked to do a video for their Masterclass series on how to make topiary. …
The lovely garden of my mentor Charlotte Molesworth is featured here in the Financial Times in the last week or so… She has been interviewed lots of times but I thought this was a particularly great piece, with some photos done at unusual angles and different parts… so well worth a read. For more on topiary by Charlotte Molesworth…
I will be teaching a number of topiary workshops in 2023. Listed below with links to see all the details about how to book: Northern School of Gardening, near Harrogate – April 27th 2023 Madoo Conservancy, New York – May 12th 2023 Madoo Conservancy, New York – May 13th 2023 Gunnebo House, Gothenburg – June 29th 2023 Waltham Place, near Maidenhead – September 8th 2023 WFGA, Kent – September 9th 2023 I hope to add more through the year, but please do email me if you want to be added to a reminder list when dates are announced. And as …