THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Aug08

Top 5 Coffee Table Garden Books

(No, Christmas is not here yet…) But we thought we would share the best coffee table garden books that we have come across – in case you need to give someone a present that is hefty enough to mean something, cheap enough to afford and beautiful enough to actually be worthwhile.

1) Mirrors of Paradise: The Gardens of Fernando Caruncho

Our number one book is about garden designer Fernando Caruncho. He was a big influence on us when we started our garden design business and there is much to be learnt from his planting schemes – basically, he uses several species of a very few plants, allaying this with a satisfying sense of space and void. We gave this book as a gift to a client last year, to open his mind to a philosophy of gardening that he had moved away from completely (he had gone for more dynamic, wilder plantings…)

Why did we offer him something that he wasn’t so interested in? To show him just how far he had come in his relationship with his garden. And because the gardens, whether they are your style or not, will make you sit up and look closely. This book will reflect back what you know and don’t know about gardening. Buy Mirrors of Paradise: The Gardens of Fernando Caruncho now.

2) Ulf Nordfjell: Fourteen Gardens

Ribes, phlox, dicentra, gillenia… blueberry, lingonberry, meadows… scilla, puschkinia and narcissus… these are the plants Ulf uses, these are the plants you will see in the coffee table garden book. Another brilliant designer that will get you looking at your garden in a totally new way…

3) The Scandinavian Garden

Following on with the Scandinavian theme is this one about Scandinavian Gardens. It is a coffee table book, so of course the pictures are brilliant, but the writing too is sharp enough to make you want to have nothing but rocks and lichen to tend.

We have spent a lot of time in Scandinavia over the last decade and, though the growing season is short, the people are not afraid to use colour and really enjoy the time they have. Whenever we open this book it makes us long to spend summer gardening in Scandinavia, using dill in all our food and walking through the Swedish forests picking mushrooms to take back home and fry in lots of butter. Giving The Scandinavian Garden as a gift will certainly make you stand out to your friends…

4) Jardins de Jacques Wirtz

It seems at times this book is a struggle to get. Because it adorns the coffee tables of that many homes? We hope so, as it is a magnificent book, another one that inspired us when we set out to design gardens. He is known for his cloud pruned box and hedges of tightly clipped beech, yet as Monty Don says…

“There are flowers too. Lots of them. But no traditional borders. Everything has a utilitarian shape about it. They grow their flowers in rows… this might seem brutally functional, but… the flower garden thus takes on the easy confidence of an allotment…”

Having this coffee table garden book will catch the eye and set off conversation with anyone who sees it.

5) Zen Gardens: The Complete Works of Shunmyo Masuno, Japan’s Leading Garden Designer

38 gardens, a conversation with designer Shunmyo and site plans to pour over. If you know someone interested in garden design or horticulture, they will be amazed when you give them this. Why amazed? Because having visited Japan, we can tell you the gardens are jaw dropping in the way they look and the serene atmosphere they provide you with. This book is worth it.

Hopefully these five recommendations for coffee table garden books have helped you find a present for someone you care about – if you like it, they should as well, yes?

Happy shopping!


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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