THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Feb25

Fairtrade Fortnight: Peeling back the Banana Story

Yesterday was the launch of Fairtrade Fortnight. This year the campaign is in support of banana farmers who are struggling to make a living from their crop. Supermarkets have almost halved the price of bananas over the last ten years, meaning it is farmers who bear the brunt of our savings.

Buying Fairtrade bananas means workers have:

Safe conditions to work in.

Earn enough for a decent standard of living.

Have rights and benefits.

The idea of sourcing all your food from the local area is a good aim. But in the winter months the body begins to crave something a little more exotic. A fruit like pineapple becomes a real treat. We bought one from Riverford Organic last week and went to roast it with vanilla seeds…

Pineapple

… delicious. Less acidic than orange or grapefruit, and the flesh has a strong almost meaty texture.

For a more luxurious dish, try adding rum and star anise as well.

If you want to stay local with your pineapple, why not grow one yourself? Full instructions are given here by Bob Flowerdew. You may find they are surprisingly easy to grow!

Two hundred years ago a Head Gardener’s reputation was built on their ability to grow a pineapple for the household. Originally a South American plant, the first pineapple came to England from Barbados in 1657. Dutchman Henry Telende, the head gardener at Pembroke House, began cultivating nearly 50 fruiting plants. In a brick-lined pit they placed a layer of fresh horse dung. They then covered this with an even thicker layer of tanners bark (a powder made from oak bark, which would keep a constant heat of 25 degrees.) The pineapple would go into this pit and then be covered with glass. The water given to the pineapples by Telende and his team was also heated to be at soil temperature when given to the plant.

James Barnes (who had worked at Cranford House in Essex, but most famously gardened for nearly thirty years at Bicton in Devon) became acknowledged as the best pineapple grower by the mid 1800’s. He had the use of a pit, which meant he could have, “a thorough command of the root temperature… abundance of light, heat and ventilation.” That seems about right for growing such an exotic looking fruit.

Do think Fairtrade when shopping. It is not more expensive, it is actually the true value of the product – when everyone involved in producing it gets the fair deal you yourself would want.

And good luck growing pineapples at home!

Feb22

Guanock House – Trainee Topiary Artist Needed

guanock 1

Guanock House needs a trainee topiary artist! Some of you may know it as the first home and garden of designer Arne Maynard, but is now owned and maintained by Michael Coleman and his wife Michelle. They offer meditation workshops and retreats there and it is as beautiful a house and garden as you could wish to visit. They called me in last Autumn to help shape up some of the topiary as it was all getting out of hand, but what it really needs is someone with a steady hand and lots of patience to take over the clipping …

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Feb09

Topiary In The Snow

Here are some photos of work I have been doing at the garden of Charlotte Molesworth in Kent. Snow and ice brings out the depth of the different planes and angles carved into the boxwood. A garden has to look beautiful in winter – and topiary (green architecture)  helps do that! For more topiary pictures, click here.

Feb05

New Talk: How To Use Topiary In The Garden

topiary cold

How To Use Topiary In The Garden is my new talk, which I first gave last year via Zoom for the European Boxwood And Topiary Society. Returning to Zoom again, there are two dates available to see and hear the talk: March 16th – Book your ticket here April 6th – Book your ticket here The talk is great fun, perfect for keen gardeners or people who want to know how to improve their garden with hedges and architectural plants. How To Use Topiary In The Garden looks at how to move away from the idea topiary is twee or old-fashioned, …

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