THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Mar16

From Bee Magnet To Babe Magnet

Yep, lovely Modern Minters, we are going to make this call – right now, in 2017, if you have a garden that helps the bees then that makes you sexy.

But how does that work? Can you really become a babe magnet just by encouraging bees to your garden?

Yes. Yes you can. As you probably know, we need bees.

They pollinate our tastiest food – think tomatoes, strawberries, apples… and there is a growing body of evidence that suggests bee pollinated food is healthier, tastier (because it has a better sugar to acid ratio) and keeps longer, meaning you get less waste when moving the food from field to plate.

Thinking this through, it may be that if we lose all the bees (and colonies have been in decline, suffering from the use of pesticides in the fields that grow our food and the loss of habitats for forage) then all may not be lost – sure we won’t have the tastiest of food, but we may be able to stimulate the economy with all the new jobs created hand pollinating our crops.

No-one will be out of work again!

Meadow for Bees
Forage for Bees

But as lovely as a job painting pollen onto flowers sounds (it isn’t when doing it on a huge scale, all day, every day) we don’t think that is really what the Government has in mind for stimulating the UK job market.

What they really need is to do all they can to encourage the bees so that our food is as healthy and easy to grow as possible.

Encouraging organic growing would be the best place to start, as would a reintroduction of wildflower meadows.

But as that isn’t likely to happen, what simple actions can you take to make your garden a magnet for bees?

Make Your Garden A Magnet For Bees

First of all, refrain from using insecticides, herbicides or pesticides. They all sound a lot like genocide, and that is exactly the affect they have on our bee population.

Secondly, plant a wide range of flowers for bees. The best ones have been researched by Rosi Rollings, of Rosy Bee. This photo below is of one of her star plant performers, Echium, photographed by Rosi herself in winter.

Yes, it looks like a weed, but it grows into a magnificent flower and is a total bee magnet.

Echium - a bee magnet

Other great plants for bees include the lovely daisy Helenium, the easy to grow Sedum and the fun Teucrium, which is an alternative to boxwood (if you suffer from box blight.)

Thirdly, plant these bee friendly flowers in blocks – it means the bees waste less energy going from nectar source to nectar source. The bees will also see this block of flowers far quicker, making it truly magnetic!

But what do we mean by planting flowers in blocks?

We mean planting something like this, a border designed by Piet Oudolf…

blocks become bee magnets

Vast numbers of flowers!

Lastly, plant organic bulbs. They are bee friendly!

By making these simple changes to your garden, you can provide a piece of land that is an absolute magnet for bees.

And in our eyes, someone who can attract the bees and help arrest their decline is attractive in far more ways – they show they have empathy for other creatures, are intelligent enough to know a bit about the world, they get out of their seats and actually do something and, of course, they grow so many flowers the world looks a better place.

If that isn’t attractive, if those aren’t values that we can admire in someone, then we don’t know what is.

Good luck with turning your garden into a bee magnet – and yourselves into a babe magnet!

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 …

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Apr27

Kites And Strings Podcast – Topiary In The Garden

kites and strings podcast

Kites and Strings is a podcast about creativity, hosted by US-based Stephen Ploum and Catherine Chinnock. Back in March they asked me to come onto their podcast and talk about topiary, my past writing plays, the stand-up I did and how creativity can fit into your life. The Kites and Strings podcast was great fun and Stephen and Catherine are fantastic hosts. Listening back today I am surprised by some of the ideas I talked about (somehow I even started to describe a future where I run a ‘School of Creativity’ by the sea…. where did that come from?!) but it …

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Apr27

Robinia – Pruning A Beautiful Tree For Small Gardens

topiary Robinia

Robinia is often forgotten – by me, actually! – when thinking of plants for topiary. But when I work on it I do love it, brittle and soft as the wood is if you climb into it. But that danger of snapping a branch with a heavy step and falling out of the tree aside, I love it for the dappled light it allows into the garden space. Robinia Near The Sea Below is a Robinia I have gently clipped over the last few years, down near Leigh-on-Sea in Essex. The tree was large when I arrived, although it is …

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