THE MODERN MINT BLOG
Some inspiring pictures of an Essex Meadow, from just outside of Chelmsford – this should give you an idea of the meadow you can create in your own garden.
We love meadows because they are a haven for wildlife. To be fair, even undisturbed long grass will attract insects and other animals, who aren’t as fussy about their postcode as humans are. Though long grass is great, when you see flowers that are also providing nectar and pollen you know you are somewhere special.
Meadows are a recent addition to the gardeners armoury, but are in fact nothing more than a man-made agricultural system that has been used for years – take a large tract of land that gets lots of sun, let it grow until July/August, then cut it down and store it for farm animals winter feed.
They are dynamic, ever-changing tapestries – one year may see a huge display of cowslips, the next year the golden yellow buttercups take over – and this is one reason they have become fashionable recently, because they appear to be hugely diverse, with more species per metre squared than you would find in an average flower border.
Biological diversity is the current Governmental watchword!
(The other current trend is a zeal for ‘Native Planting’, which appears to contradict entirely the lust for diversity – the native British flora is so small (about 1000 flowering species, around 200 of which are described as ‘doubtfully native’) that if we created a meadow of the most common UK plants all we would get is a big patch of nettles!
These opposing Government aims for the natural stewardship of our country are a tacit version of a naive Farage policy – we want to protect what is ours, ‘rightfully’ ours… except when it benefits us to fill the gap with ‘aliens’ who are more useful and harder working…)
The first benefit a meadow will bring to your garden is that of a lifestyle choice – once established, the maintenance regime is one hour per year for every ten square metres of meadow. The creation of the right plant community means each flower will be able to co-exist with little input from you. As mentioned above, some years one species of flower may prefer the weather conditions and be the most visible, but the following year a different weather pattern will stop it dominating and allow something else to flourish.
A perennial meadow (one which comes back year after year e.g. rhubarb is a perennial because you plant it then leave it alone, while broad beans are not because you have to harvest the seed and re-sow them every spring) will, once established, be long lived and resilient. Once in motion and growing you may not have to plant or add anything else for at least ten years.
If this interests you, please do see about becoming one of our Ten Meadows.
And last of all, for more information on making meadows try these books – they are an excellent place to start…
This Autumn I have presented another ‘Topiary Provocation’ to keen gardeners and designers. If you want to know more about topiary, the report on what we discussed and where modern topiary is going can be read by clicking the link below: Topiary Provocation Report Autumn 2021 This report is free to post on your own website or blog, just credit Modern Mint, and don’t change anything within it. Alternatively you can just share it with keen friends… or enemies?
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 …