THE MODERN MINT BLOG
As a garden design company we at Modern Mint are always thinking about our relationship to the natural environment.
We try to use our vehicles and power tools as little as possible.
And we try very hard to educate clients in how to reduce their use of chemicals in the garden.
But just how far can you go to ‘help the environment’ while living in UK society in 2014? Because to fit in, to live in anyway at all, requires you to consume – whether it is fuel, food with sugar or palm oil in, or products that are transported a long long way for our use.
(This dichotomy was written about by George Monbiot in an essay he wrote about advertising – “We think we know who the enemies are: banks, big business, lobbyists, the politicians who exist to appease them. But somehow the sector which stitches this system of hypercapitalism together gets overlooked… I am talking about the industry whose output frames this column and pays for it: advertising…
I detest this poison, but I also recognise that I am becoming more dependent on it. As sales of print editions decline, newspapers lean even more heavily on advertising.”)
Where do we begin answering this question, when every little thing we do, thinking we are making just a tiny bit of difference to the world, can be exposed as a fraud when someone points out we ‘still get on an aeroplane’ or ‘you advertise your products!’ or ‘how can you use Fairy liquid and not Ecover if you’re that eco-conscious?’
It is difficult, but we simply begin by making a list of things we have and use for our work at Modern Mint…
An internet connection.
A plastic flask.
Pens and pencils.
Website and server.
Products we sell on our shop.
And so the list goes on… without even getting started on the materials we use in constructing a garden!
Next we take this list and we ask questions of it.
Can we reduce our use of this? Can we recycle here? Can we reuse anything at all?
For example, we would like to reduce our use of hedgetrimmers. So we have decided to invest in decent shears. We have gone for two pairs – one made by Okatsune, as good all-rounders for any job…
And these expensive ones from Niwaki. Because they should last a lifetime.
We hope to reach a stage, within the next five years, where we can live and work without the need for a mobile phone. It means educating your clients to know they can’t contact you at any time of the day, in any place. It means you must (re)educate yourself to be somewhere when you said you would be, instead of taking the easy option of texting to say you’re running late. At the moment we can’t see how you can have a business without using a mobile phone, but who knows? The thought is there, the wheels will start turning, and an opportunity may arise to dispose of it and create a way of life that doesn’t need one…
None of this answers the question we started with – how can you live in UK society in 2014 and help the environment? Or more specifically, not leave yourself open to people pointing out all the ways you aren’t helping the environment. But it does open up a new avenue of exploration for us as garden designers – we don’t just have a moral duty to the client and their outside space, we also have a duty to the legacy we leave for others.
We plan to write more about this subject in the near future, so do subscribe to get updates. If you want more right now, you may want to read the interview we made with Essex Bees – Richard is a fascinating voice to get to know. You can also try these Shades of Green…
While a few writers worth reading are these:
Brought By Bike is an excellent website I found last month, where businesses offer their services by (of course) bicycle. Modern Mint and my topiary work is now live on the site offering my topiary services, via bike, to the following two postcodes – CM1 CM2 Now I can imagine I will need to borrow a ladder should anyone have a larger shrub, but most town gardens in the Chelmsford area have a need not just for privacy but to let light into the house… so a balance must be struck when shaping hedges and shrubs to cover both needs. …
Transforming Topiary – a video made for the European Boxwood And Topiary Society by Charlotte Molesworth and I, in her garden. We take a dog topiary and work out how to update it, turning it into a bird. Worth a watch I think, and hopefully useful to you! You can see more of my clipping on the topiary page. Or read my Spring 2021 Topiary Provocation here.
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 …