THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Feb17

Flooding

Tree down!

Weather warnings, high winds, flooded houses and waterlogged fields. The damage is mounting.

(Although high winds and the weight of the evergreen tree in the picture contributed to it falling over, it was the sodden ground in which its roots stood that caused it to tip, laying bare the root system you see. The ground was so wet and soft the roots had nothing to anchor to.)

Environment secretary Owen Paterson and Prime Minister David Cameron have pledged to dredge river channels, believing it to be a way to prevent flooding. But it is the saturated land, unable to hold more water, that needs looking at. Dredging rivers will just quicken the flow of water, causing further flooding at pinch points in the waterways.

Speaking to a gardener at South East Essex Organic Gardeners he insisted that, should there be a high tide or a storm surge towards London, the Thames barrier will save the city. However, the water has to go somewhere. Essex will be flooded.

This is the problem – the country needs places for the water to be held, allowing it to percolate down in its own time.

In Copenhagen solutions are being aired to cope with major ‘cloudburst challenges’. Surface runoff will be caught in rainwater catchment tanks and held there, below street level, possibly supporting plants that have no problem spending some of their lives being flooded. This will be the future for all major cities, where paved areas don’t allow water to filter away.

Most streets no longer have front gardens, as a necessity for parking spaces for two or more cars mean more asphalt, large stretches of it on each estate. Perhaps, as gardeners and garden owners, we can begin changing this and combating flooding in urban areas by adding more vegetation to these areas, or harvesting rainwater in tanks below the surface?

This problem is not going away. Adding sandbags is action too late. Depleting the force of fast flowing water and allowing rivers to stretch themselves out across floodplains is the way forward.

We hope at Modern Mint we can help design a garden that helps solve this problem.

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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