THE MODERN MINT BLOG
Looking online for where the word compost comes from, we found it originates in ‘composite’.
‘Com’ = together
‘Ponere’ – to place
To place together.
The perfect word for compost, the black gold of the garden.
Quick Modern Mint tip for making compost:
Place together a 50/50 mixture of green garden arisings (grass, flowers, vegetable peelings, stems) and brown, dry arisings (woody stems, cardboard, leaves, coffee grounds.) No cooked foods as it encourages rats.
Occasionally turn this heap with a fork or spade.
Leave for enough time and you will have compost to add back onto your garden.
Your garden will appreciate this.
Inspired by this idea of placing together, below are suggestions from garden writers to help you make thoughtful, horticultural compost… enjoy!
If we take a field that we don’t cut or graze with livestock, the grass will become long and tufty, and then perennial plants such as bramble will appear. Next come the pioneer tree species such as birch and willow. These colonise the area quickly but will only form a temporary canopy, and over time the climax canopy species, such as oak, beech or ash, will find their way to the top and become a canopy layer. This is what we refer to as ‘nature’s climax’.
Species that enjoy similar ecologies will almost always look good together… a natural piece of North American woodland, for example, would boast trilliums and smilacina; in Europe, solomons seal and hellebores might occupy the same niche; and in Asia these might be replaced by meconopsis and epimediums.
But in a garden, it is easy to bring all these together, like a horticultural melting pot, and to come up with a ravishing woodland garden.
And if plenty of our own natives are added – not just popular plants like bluebells and primroses, but also hedge garlic, figwort, even dog’s mercury – then the garden has ecological as well as aesthetic value.
A biennial cut (of your meadow) allows the eggs and pupae of grassland species (of butterfly) to overwinter in long grass.
An annual cut during autumn allows plants to seed, areas cut three times in one year encourage nectar rich flowers and grass maintained at 4 inches high encourages low growing flowers.
Green walls make spaces of monastic quiet and calm.
The house is modest but beautiful inside and out.
… clean spaces filled with light inside…
Rather as though one has stumbled upon an attic full of beautiful, yet slightly forgotten, objects or into a sculptors studio filled with work in various stages of completion.
The Wirtz’s use the garden to test the hardiness of plants and simply how they grow before using them for clients.
The horitucltural skill is worn very lightly indeed.
Here are flowers too. Lots of them. But no traditional borders. Everything has a utilitarian shape about it. They grow their flowers in rows and do so even in the gardens of their clients. This might sem brutally functional, but… Jacques is right when he says that a ‘good selection of perennials is always beautiful when planted in rows.’
The flower garden thus takes on the easy confidence of an allotment…
So delphiniums, nigella, cornflowers, roses, swetpeas, azaleas, weeping cherries, irises… are all in merging blocks… tulips and peonies each have their own blocks in amongst the topiary and then are left to die back gently.
It does not look abandoned or negligent.
Things have simply moved on from their moment, like coming across a patch of bluebells gone to seed in a wood.
Monty Don on Jacques Wirtz.
This is a composition (note: to place together), an arrangement.
I wanted to bring aspects of my childhood. I decide that I wanted to have living art, utilising a lot of indigenous art material – in a formal concept. That’s what I like.
My main criteria is to be water-wise… what I have now is really who I am. My garden is a complete expression of myself.
I enjoy recycling. It’s very imporatnat to me. Even a lot of the plant material is recycled. I rescue them wherever I can.
I take what I have and explore. Once I have the plant it will tell me what to do. I don’t want to have special plants that need extra protection. That’s for the collector.
I have really worked with the conditions.
Garden Designer Henk Scholtz.
I rarely build walls. I much prefer hedges. You can do so much with them. You can hide a view or make a window. You can use hedges as visual axes through a garden or divide up a garden with them like the walls of a house. They can be straight and formal or informal and organic.
A lot depends on the way you clip them. You can play around with different heights and widths.
Why have organic flowers when you don’t eat them? (Because) it is a choice of how we treat the landscape…
Amy Stewart on Cut Flowers.
Hope these words provide you with great compost!
Making a new topiary out of the large, dull facade of a Taxus blob… My work was to change it up from a ‘jelly drop’ shape and give it texture, open it out and let the light through, and make it a sculptural feature in the background of the garden in summer… yet a major part of the garden in winter. A few more years before it becomes something special, but there was far more leaf and growth inside the plant than I thought and so it will not take too long for it to gain in character and become …
Two weeks ago I was invited to teach topiary at the garden of Griselda Kerr, the author of The Apprehensive Gardener. I love teaching and sharing skills, but I was placed on the spot in the afternoon and asked to show how I would make a new topiary from an existing shrub. So below is a speeded-up video of me creating a cloud-pruned topiary from an old boxwood tree. I particularly love the ending when the class get involved….! See the video here. One hour was all it took, and though it needed a little tidying-up, it was made by …
Charlotte Molesworth, my topiary mentor, and I are running our popular topiary workshop again in 2022. You can email me for details – or go here for information, your ticket and to find out about dates. Book A Spot On A Topiary Workshop, September 2022