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!

Apr28

Phillyrea From 1682

Worlidge Phillyrea

Phillyrea is one of my favourite plants for topiary. I have been using it for quite a few years as a specimen shrub, mostly due to the fact it clips well and has a tough habit – all good characteristics for a topiary plant. It also has a  reputation for being an excellent nectar source for bees… Read more about Phillyrea here. Mentioning this to Malcolm Thicke, a market garden historian and writer, he sent me a some photos of topiary and phillyrea mentioned by John Worlidge in Systema Horticulturae from 1682…. incredible! He also mentioned to me that in …

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Apr27

Kites And Strings Podcast – Topiary In The Garden

kites and strings podcast

Kites and Strings is a podcast about creativity, hosted by US-based Stephen Ploum and Catherine Chinnock. Back in March they asked me to come onto their podcast and talk about topiary, my past writing plays, the stand-up I did and how creativity can fit into your life. The Kites and Strings podcast was great fun and Stephen and Catherine are fantastic hosts. Listening back today I am surprised by some of the ideas I talked about (somehow I even started to describe a future where I run a ‘School of Creativity’ by the sea…. where did that come from?!) but it …

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Apr27

Robinia – Pruning A Beautiful Tree For Small Gardens

topiary Robinia

Robinia is often forgotten – by me, actually! – when thinking of plants for topiary. But when I work on it I do love it, brittle and soft as the wood is if you climb into it. But that danger of snapping a branch with a heavy step and falling out of the tree aside, I love it for the dappled light it allows into the garden space. Robinia Near The Sea Below is a Robinia I have gently clipped over the last few years, down near Leigh-on-Sea in Essex. The tree was large when I arrived, although it is …

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