THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Sep15

Gilding the Lily – Amy Stewart (Part One)

Gilding the Lily: Inside the Cut Flower Industry by Amy Stewart is about the life of a cut flower before it arrives in the shop.

Her extensive research is a must-read – this is not a book designed solely for people interested in growing flowers, or people who love the beauty of flowers in the house – it is a book that has a wider focus and is able to join the dots between first world consumption, the quest for a luxury item and what happens to an industry when a product (and the people who create it) become a commodity measured only in price.

Here are some key quotes from the book…

On breeding a rose for the cut flower market…

“7 years to design a rose in a laboratory and bring it to market. 6000 miles from a geneticist in Amsterdam to a farmer in Ecuador. 3 months of careful watching and waiting while the Valentines Day crop grows. 5 days, 2 airplanes, and a couple of trucks to get them to my house… they’d last a week in the vase.”

On the ephemeral nature of cut flowers…

“What amazed me most about this extraordinarily complex worldwide industry is this: they do it all for something as perishable and ephemeral as a flower. Airplanes fly in from Kenya and trucks drive from Holland and acres of greenhouses get built and billions of dollars change hands. All that for the alstroemerias you pick up at the grocery store as an afterthought…”

On seasonal vs trade flowers…

“The cut flower trade is all about this struggle between what is natural and unspoiled and what is mass produced and commercial.”

On flowers as a symbol of love…

“If the mixed bouquet of red roses and pink chrysanthemums designed by a national wire service at Valentines Day is indistinguishable from 1000’s of others delivered that same day all across the country, does that make the message it carries any less significant?”

On Gilding the Lily…

“The more time I spent around the flower industry, the more I wondered if we were expecting too much from them (the flowers). Who are we to take a symbol of perfection, purity, and love and try to improve upon it… are we, in fact, gilding the lilly?”

On the florists impact…

“I realised that one reason why customers have so little idea where flowers come from is that their only point of contact in the industry – the florist – may have little idea either.”

On an opinion she heard about organic flowers…

“Why have organic flowers when you don’t eat them?”

(And to that last comment we reply – because it is a choice of how we treat the landscape…)

So that is Gilding the Lily by Amy Stewart, which you can buy at a lovely low price here at Amazon.

And here is is Part Two.

Apr22

Topiary Provocation Spring 2021

organic topiary snow

Topiary Provocation? What is this about? Topiary Provocation, Darren Lerigo, Spring 2021 This spring of 2021 I invited a number of garden designers to a series of meetings via Zoom, to discuss how topiary can be used effectively in modern gardens. I wanted to discover how both clients and designers felt about topiary, whether it was a part of the garden that got as much thought as, say, the choice of stone for a patio…. and if certain plants and shapes tended to trend in designs or if it truly was a mish-mash of different topiary styles. The provocation and talks …

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Apr22

Waltham Place Talk – Watch On Youtube

waltham place talk

Waltham Place in Maidenhead is one of my favourite gardens of all time. The philosophy is to garden with nature, rather than against, so improving the soil and growing a diverse range of plants is placed at the heart of how to manage the space.   Through the European Boxwood and Topiary Society I arranged a talk by the garden team at Waltham Place. It has been recorded and put on Youtube so if you missed it live, you can watch it there and get a feel for what they are doing. There are some extraordinary photos of the garden …

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Mar15

Topiary Provocation For Garden Designers

snow topiary

I am running a ‘Topiary Provocation’ for garden designers, via Zoom, over the next few weeks. Dates are: Tuesday 23rd March, 10am Wednesday 24th March 7.30pm Thursday 8th April, 7.30pm The ‘provocation’ is for garden designers anywhere in the world, is free to join and will last about 45 minutes. Places are limited to 12 per session, as I want to make sure we can share ideas about topiary and how it can be used (and managed) in a modern garden – especially if skill level and maintenance time is low. I hope that I can provoke a discussion around …

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