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?

Jun10

Brought By Bike – Topiary Making

Brought By Bike is an excellent website I found last month, where businesses offer their services by (of course) bicycle. Modern Mint and my topiary work is now live on the site offering my topiary services, via bike, to the following two postcodes – CM1 CM2 Now I can imagine I will need to borrow a ladder should anyone have a larger shrub, but most town gardens in the Chelmsford area have a need not just for privacy but to let light into the house… so a balance must be struck when shaping hedges and shrubs to cover both needs. …

READ MORE

May10

Transforming Topiary

topiary transforming

Transforming Topiary – a video made for the European Boxwood And Topiary Society by Charlotte Molesworth and I, in her garden. We take a dog topiary and work out how to update it, turning it into a bird. Worth a watch I think, and hopefully useful to you! You can see more of my clipping on the topiary page. Or read my Spring 2021 Topiary Provocation here.

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 …

READ MORE