THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Apr01

Did You Know…

… Iceland is Europe’s largest producer of bananas.

Solanaceae (plants from the nightshade family) are known to produce alkaloids that can be either toxic or advantageous (this depends on your view of the world, and possibly how much you’ve ingested!) Three alkaloids borne by the family are Solanine, Nicotine and Capsaicin. Capsaicin is the one that gives you the burning sensation when you eat a chilli. Several members of the nightshade family are now important crops – tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, aubergines and tobacco. Who would have thought something so tasty could be so deadly too?

The Ginkgo tree is a botanical ‘living fossil’ with a lineage millions of years into prehistory. To put that into perspective, it hung out with the dinosaurs and stood there watching reptiles turn into mammals… turn into our ancestors… turn into us.

The conversion of forests, wetlands and grasslands for agriculture or development has resulted in the release of CO2 into the atmosphere. But this release can be slowed down by Carbon Sequestration, the capturing of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it in an organic form. To do this, grow a cover crop (something as simple as grass will do) on any bare soil you have, add home made compost to your flower beds and do less digging in the vegetable patch. And finally…

Fritillaria meleagris is considered a native British plant, which (officially) means it got to this land mass on its own, starting from somewhere close by where it was also native. However it is not found at all in north-east France. Except in Poland, where they also believe it is native, the rest of Continental Europe considers it an introduction that then escaped to the wild. The first time it was spotted in the wild in the UK was 1736. The second time? 40 years later, in 1776. For a plant so easy to spot, a lot of botanists spent a lot of time missing it! Suspicion thus cast on the Fritillaria being more of a recent introduction than a bona fide native, we still think it should be grown – it is beautiful, after all.

(Bonus ‘did you know’ – the alkaloid Capsaicin does not effect birds, only mammals. Bore your children with that one!)

Nov13

Learn To Clip Topiary Workshop 2020

topiary artists

I am running a topiary workshop in 2020 with the wonderful topiary artist Charlotte Molesworth at her spectacular topiary garden in Kent. This is a topiary workshop where you will learn to clip, so be prepared to do some cutting. We start with a tour of the garden, which Charlotte and her husband Donald have been cultivating for 34 years. It is organic, full of wildlife and has the most extraordinary pruned shapes made from yew and boxwood. You can see more photos of the garden in an article in the Guardian here: Topiary Garden In Kent What Else Will …

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Oct09

Hardy Plant Society Middlesex Talk Notes

On Monday night I gave a talk to the Hardy Plant Society Middlesex. Below are a few links for further information based on some of the ideas discussed in the talk: Real Seeds – a fantastic supplier of fruit and vegetable seeds for growers. Boxwood Caterpillar Advice – from the European Boxwood & Topiary Society. I will also write a little companion piece this winter with more information and some topiary techniques, so watch out for that on this website. Boxwood Lure & Nematodes – my preferred option for dealing with the caterpillar. Discount code for 10% off is EBTSBOX29GBZ …

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