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!)

Apr22

Topiary Provocation Spring 2021

organic topiary snow

Topiary Provocation? What is this about? Topiary Provocation, Darren Lerigo, Spring 2021 This spring of 2021 I invited a number of garden designers to a series of meetings via Zoom, to discuss how topiary can be used effectively in modern gardens. I wanted to discover how both clients and designers felt about topiary, whether it was a part of the garden that got as much thought as, say, the choice of stone for a patio…. and if certain plants and shapes tended to trend in designs or if it truly was a mish-mash of different topiary styles. The provocation and talks …

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Apr22

Waltham Place Talk – Watch On Youtube

waltham place talk

Waltham Place in Maidenhead is one of my favourite gardens of all time. The philosophy is to garden with nature, rather than against, so improving the soil and growing a diverse range of plants is placed at the heart of how to manage the space.   Through the European Boxwood and Topiary Society I arranged a talk by the garden team at Waltham Place. It has been recorded and put on Youtube so if you missed it live, you can watch it there and get a feel for what they are doing. There are some extraordinary photos of the garden …

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Mar15

Topiary Provocation For Garden Designers

snow topiary

I am running a ‘Topiary Provocation’ for garden designers, via Zoom, over the next few weeks. Dates are: Tuesday 23rd March, 10am Wednesday 24th March 7.30pm Thursday 8th April, 7.30pm The ‘provocation’ is for garden designers anywhere in the world, is free to join and will last about 45 minutes. Places are limited to 12 per session, as I want to make sure we can share ideas about topiary and how it can be used (and managed) in a modern garden – especially if skill level and maintenance time is low. I hope that I can provoke a discussion around …

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