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:

Nov13

Learn To Clip Topiary Workshop 2020

topiary artists

I am running a topiary workshop in 2020 with the wonderful topiary artist Charlotte Molesworth at her spectacular topiary garden in Kent. This is a topiary workshop where you will learn to clip, so be prepared to do some cutting. We start with a tour of the garden, which Charlotte and her husband Donald have been cultivating for 34 years. It is organic, full of wildlife and has the most extraordinary pruned shapes made from yew and boxwood. You can see more photos of the garden in an article in the Guardian here: Topiary Garden In Kent What Else Will …

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Oct09

Hardy Plant Society Middlesex Talk Notes

On Monday night I gave a talk to the Hardy Plant Society Middlesex. Below are a few links for further information based on some of the ideas discussed in the talk: Real Seeds – a fantastic supplier of fruit and vegetable seeds for growers. Boxwood Caterpillar Advice – from the European Boxwood & Topiary Society. I will also write a little companion piece this winter with more information and some topiary techniques, so watch out for that on this website. Boxwood Lure & Nematodes – my preferred option for dealing with the caterpillar. Discount code for 10% off is EBTSBOX29GBZ …

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