THE MODERN MINT BLOG

May16

Essex Wildlife Trust

One thing we’ve learned is that people in horticulture really are welcoming and keen to share their knowledge. And some people have a wealth of knowledge…

Essex Wildlife Trust ran a wildflower id and survey skills course earlier this week, with local botanist and fern fanatic Tim Pyner. The day was spent wandering through the nature reserve at Leigh-on-Sea noting down what plants could be found, the results then being submitted to Plantlife in order to map the spread of species – and find out what has left and what has arrived!

Tim was completely self-taught. He said, “I went out on weekends and studied plants. I would learn by spending twelve months just looking at grasses, getting to know them. Then in the winter when nothing was growing I would study mosses and lichens.”

In October Tim will visit Japan to study ferns in the mountains. What an adventure that will be, for this self-confessed pteridomaniac… but before he goes, in September he will be taking another wildflower id course. We recommend you go and listen well, to learn all you can from Tim Pyner, the fern fanatic.

Recommended Reading:

The Wild Flower Key (Revised Edition) – How to identify wild plants, trees and shrubs in Britain and Ireland

Sarah Raven’s Wild Flowers

British Wild Flowers: A photographic guide to every common species (Collins Complete Guide)

And for any other fernophiles…

Fern Fever: The Story of Pteridomania

Apr28

Phillyrea From 1682

Worlidge Phillyrea

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 …

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Apr27

Kites And Strings Podcast – Topiary In The Garden

kites and strings podcast

Kites and Strings is a podcast about creativity, hosted by US-based Stephen Ploum and Catherine Chinnock. Back in March they asked me to come onto their podcast and talk about topiary, my past writing plays, the stand-up I did and how creativity can fit into your life. The Kites and Strings podcast was great fun and Stephen and Catherine are fantastic hosts. Listening back today I am surprised by some of the ideas I talked about (somehow I even started to describe a future where I run a ‘School of Creativity’ by the sea…. where did that come from?!) but it …

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Apr27

Robinia – Pruning A Beautiful Tree For Small Gardens

topiary Robinia

Robinia is often forgotten – by me, actually! – when thinking of plants for topiary. But when I work on it I do love it, brittle and soft as the wood is if you climb into it. But that danger of snapping a branch with a heavy step and falling out of the tree aside, I love it for the dappled light it allows into the garden space. Robinia Near The Sea Below is a Robinia I have gently clipped over the last few years, down near Leigh-on-Sea in Essex. The tree was large when I arrived, although it is …

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