THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Oct31

Gilding the Lily – Amy Stewart (Part Three)

Gilding the Lily by Amy Stewart is about the cut flower industry. It is a brilliant book, making you question the role cut flowers (essentially a luxury item, already dying before they even get packed to be transported to the shop) have in our lives.

(Here you can buy Gilding the Lily. While here is Part One from our blog. And here is Part Two.)

This blog shares Amy Stewart’s conversation with florist shop owner Teresa Sabankaya from Santa Cruz, California…

“My whole thing with flowers started in the garden. I love to see plants going from seed to seed, you know? We had 11 acres in Bonny Doon up the coast, and I just started putting in one garden after another… the idea behind the shop was to be able to utilise some of the flowers coming off my property…

… we expanded to weddings, corporate accounts, and restaraunts. And we do deliveries. We’re a full service florist, even though we don’t look like it.”

Amy Stewart explains…

“She (Teresa) has a kiosk, a cooler and extra work space… but only 30% (of sales) come from street sales and impulse buys… her shop has more in common with a 19th century florist… she grows some of her own, just like florists did a century ago.”

It is a highly seasonal florist shop, and the way it is described in the book is thrilling – this is someone who is running a business, but also creating art. Teresa seems to have asked ‘what can a flower shop do for you? For your city?’ and found the answer to be – it can educate people about flowers and where they come from. It can excite people too.

“The whole reason I bought this place was to bring new things from the natural world and just put them right here in front of people… can you make someone stop for a minute…?

We have a frequent flower program… we stay open until 8 o’clock on the weekends…”

This is what a florist should be – growing flowers in their own garden, or sourcing flowers from a farmer just down the road, then putting together a bouquet with class and seasonality… while also providing a shopping experience that people want, at the time they want. It seems fun, seems to create a sense of community, gives a strong meaning to the flowers people buy and give as gifts. Brilliant – a dream of ours, to grow and sell cut flowers. Maybe one day?

You can read here Part One and Part Two of our Amy Stewart blogs.

Here is the a book on growing cut flowers by the lovely Louise Curley, should you want to give grow your own a go… The Cut Flower Patch.

And here are some of Amy Stewart’s other books… Amy Stewart Books – well worth a read!

Mar19

Wasting Water

Well worth a read in the BBC today – a note on how wasting water in the UK “as socially unacceptable as blowing smoke in the face of a baby.” Read the report here. I have written a talk about how we use water in the  garden. It was written when I moved from Hampshire to Essex and found out for myself just how dry this area of the UK is. It completely changed the way I garden. The lack of such a precious resource as water made me question what we can do to save it, store it and …

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Mar14

The Foie Gras That Tastes Like Nature

Ethical Foie Gras? Is That A Real Thing?   Foie gras – can it be ‘grown’ ethically? The video showing how this farmer works suggests it can… We first read about this in a book called The Third Plate by Dan Barber. I loved it and I love how Eduardo the farmer, who farms on the Dehesa in Spain, has a ‘take half leave half rule’. When talking about how the geese eat his olives… “They’re always quite fair. If you make sure the geese are relaxed and happy, you’ll be rewarded with the gift of fatty livers. That is God’s …

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Mar04

Hardy Orchids Via James Wong

Hardy orchids – here is a subject I would love to know more about – so lo and behold, James Wong has written about it in the Guardian! Read the article about hardy orchids here. I love having orchids in the house, just your usual run of the mill buy them in any shop orchids, but it is a pleasure to read about the plants that will grow outside and cope with this weather. (This insane weather! From the hottest days of February on record to Storm Freya, all within a week. Weather is always such a factor in gardening, but …

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