THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Feb21

A Busman’s Holiday

Two years ago on Gardeners World we saw the work of Brian and Denise Herrick, who farm and manage the 85 acre estate Barcroft Hall.

They had decided to create a wildflower meadow on poor land, to create “a little piece of heaven.”

A few of us went down to see it and our director Darren Lerigo was interviewed by a local paper. You can read in the link what he had to say about ‘his busman’s holiday.’

Our memories of this still stand strong – especially the buzzing of bees that thrived on the nectar rich flowers, densely sown to cover as much bare earth as possible.

A quick story for you…

…last year we had a client ask for a wildflower meadow. On asking honest questions of the client and what he thought a wildflower meadow looked like, it turned out he saw in his mind’s eye a meadow of cornfield annuals, a completely different entity. We quoted him and were given consent to go and make it happen.

We cleared the ground, created the seedbed and then sowed a mix based on Dame Miriam Rothschild’s ‘Farmer’s Nightmare’. This includes corn cockle, corn marigold, cornflower and field poppy with its beautiful tissue paper red and black flower.

It germinated and took off, flourishing in the conditions we had created. It had just reached its peak, looking almost gossamer when evening light slung across its flowers, when…it turned black, shrivelled, and died off completely.

It turned out the farmer who had been spraying the field next door with weedkiller had seen this patch of ‘Farmer’s Nightmare’ and, showing some initiative, decided to spray them off because he thought they were unwanted plants. If we were growing crops, they would be unwanted plants. But an ornamental garden is different to a productive garden and the flowers had not only been intentional, but had looked stunning.

We laugh about it now, but it is worth questioning where you get your ideas of beauty and ugliness from….

Try these for a few ideas:

May03

Selection Of Topiary Videos To Help You Clip

Over the last two years I have been involved with a couple of projects that have ended up being recorded, then placed on Youtube or Instagram. I’m hoping they will be useful to you, so I have decided this morning to pop them together in one handy blog post so that you can bookmark the page and revisit when you need some inspiration for your topiary. See below then, a few videos about topiary I have recently been involved with… Garden Masterclass – Provocations of a Modern Topiarist Transforming Topiary Topiary Teacher Put On The Spot https://www.instagram.com/p/CTj-EfOKRL6/ In the above …

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May03

Mark Zlotsky – Topiary Tango In New York

Mark Zlotsky is an artist based in New York, and today I just wanted to share his project ‘Topiary Tango’. In his introduction to the project he talks of topiary being a forgiving art, which I love and is soooooo true…..! For proof, just take a look at some projects I have made with a sharp pair of shears, a hedgetrimmer and a pruning saw. Do check out Mark Zlotsky’s project, because although his interest began by looking at topiary through the prism of architecture and the relationship of one building to another, he touches directly onto a way of …

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Apr27

Gardenista Interview – I Talk About Modern Topiary

Gardenista, the online magazine about gardens and design, have interviewed me about topiary. The article is called ‘Rethinking Topiary: A Garden Tradition Loosened Up’ and was published this morning. Written by the excellent garden writer Clare Coulson, I share some thoughts on using deciduous plants, how to clip (name-dropping Anne Lamott and her book on writing at one stage… oh, how I wander off subject sometimes!) and how to improve topiary by what you plant around it. Do take a look at the article in Gardenista. Or for more about my topiary work, check out the topiary page.