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?

Jan12

Books – Gardening & Others I Recommend

I compiled a list of books using Bookshop, a new online shop to rival Amazon. I like it because it is supporting independent bookshops, helping them out by giving them an audience whilst their own physical premises are closed. The books I’ve listed are not all about gardening, but worth a look through and an order anyway as they are wonderful and have seen me through lockdown – and I hope they bring you some joy too!  Check out the books I recommend here.

Dec13

Hedge Laying

Hedge laying is something I’ve been meaning to try for a long time, a type of pruning that can bring huge benefits to wildlife as well as looking amazing. So last year I went down to Dorset/the edge of Devon, to spend a day learning to lay a hedge. Hedge laying is a way of building a stock proof fence. It does take time, and some practical and physical skill, but once you get the hang of it I would think developing your instinct about what to prune and where to lay the branches is where the true proficiency arises… …

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Nov19

Fernando Caruncho, A Couple More Interviews To Read…

Fernando Caruncho is a garden designer from Madrid. I am always inspired by his work – his clean lines, ‘green architecture’, sense of proportion, balance and minimal plant palette. This seems to bring out the atmosphere of the garden, the space, intensifying its… spirit. I have written about him a lot – here, for example… and here. But recently I have discovered a few more interviews with him, so thought I would link to his words as he always has something interesting to say, the opposite of prosaic. This first interview from the Society of Garden Designers will give you …

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