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.

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.