THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Jun11

Azara – Another Great Shrub For Bees

We had never heard of nor come across Azara until this week, when we were asked to prune one that had turned into a small tree.

Not an elegant shrub, even when pruned hard it still looked as if it wasn’t sure what size it was really supposed to be – large shrub or a small tree…?  Unsure why it had been planted until told, with no doubts whatsoever, it happens to have flowers that the bees ABSOLUTELY ADORE!

Aah, so then…. Azara is a plant worth planting.

Because of its slight lack of grace, perhaps substitute it in place of a Forsythia in the garden – tucked away somewhere down the bottom, in a corner. It will be better value for the honeybee, have a better leaf too, and instead of being looked down upon by garden snobs the way Forsythia is, you can say to them – “oh, don’t you know this shrub? Really? You don’t know this one? Oh dear….”

Azara at the bottom of your garden will give you the gardening bragging rights amongst your neighbours or fellow garden club members, because they may well not know it either. (Sadly though, being that patronising to someone will make you look like a pleb too….)

Planting Azara will also get you in with your local beekeepers, who will appreciate what you are doing for the honeybee. Getting in with a beekeeper is recommended, as pots of honey may end up coming your way for being such a lovely, bee friendly gardener.

That is not to be sniffed at!

Ursula Buchan tells us how to grow Azara here. It is dead easy.

We have a few other shrubs you might like to try in your garden, that will definitely help the bees – escallonia is one, phillyrea another.

Cotoneaster is one more shrub that is very good at looking after itself, and adored by the bees….

Finally, have some ground elder that is flowering at the moment? We have spotted honeybees on this pernicious weed. So maybe it is not all bad?

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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