THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Jul21

Garden Club Speaker

A speaker for your audience? A speaker for your audience via Zoom?

“I don’t think I have ever had so many positive comments about a speaker, thank you for making my job a success!”

Wrabness Gardening Club

Jo Swift & Modern Mint - Garden Club Speakers
Garden Club Speakers! Joe Swift of BBC Gardeners’ World with Darren Lerigo of Modern Mint at Blenheim Palace….

Please note this page holds a lot of information. If you are a speaker finder from a group or club, you may wish to visit this shorter page to see about booking Darren to give a talk. Otherwise, if you want to know everything, carry on reading below!

Garden Club Looking For A Speaker?

If you are a garden club, society, beekeeping group, U3A, Probes club or WI who would like an entertaining and informed talk, then you’ve come to the right place.

Darren Lerigo of Modern Mint can help you!

“Thank you for  a fabulous evening, I have had so many emails and comments to say how much our members thoroughly enjoyed your talk and feel inspired!

You are an excellent speaker and funnily enough I am swopping our experience with two other clubs in the next few days, so be assured you are going on our  “highly recommended” list.

I shall definitely be recommending you, your enthusiasm is refreshing. Thank you for helping me out at the last minute.”

Brightlingsea Garden Club

A Speaker Who Is Happy To Travel – or Zoom!

Although we are based in Essex, we are happy to travel to share our talks with keen garden folk!

Do contact us to discuss how we can make it happen for you, within budget.

About Darren, Our Club Speaker

Darren is a topiary artist and gardener. You may have seen some of his topiary work on the TV or in the Guardian.

Before becoming a full-time gardener Darren wrote some plays (some even won awards), had radio scripts commissioned and performed as a stand-up comedian.

With hindsight, these past careers make talking at garden clubs the obvious next choice, right?

Darren loves clipping topiary and enjoys sharing his knowledge and interest with people who love their gardens, or are interested in the way the landscape affects the way we live.

“Many thanks for your very interesting talk on Friday night, it made us look at our gardening in a different way.”

Peggy, Waltham Abbey Gardening Club

Where Has Darren Been A Speaker?

Mentored by Kew Gardens Philip Turvil, Darren began his career as a speaker at the end of 2014 and quickly got booked out for the following year.

Since then, he has given 182 talks over the three years to the end of 2018. Highlights have been:

  • Appearing at the National Flower Show alongside Joe Swift of Gardeners World
  • Being invited back the following year to share the bill with Mary Berry. (Admittedly, she was more of a draw for the crowd….)
  • Blenheim Palace Flower Show with Mary Berry (again), Joe Swift (again) and David Domoney.
  • Speaking at the 2016 Blenheim Palace Flower Show with Sir Ian McKellen, Robert Longstaff and Ground Force’s Tommy Walsh.
  • The 2017 Blenheim Palace Flower Show saw Darren speaking alongside Alan Titchmarsh and the lovely Val Bourne.
  • Presenting the Ted Hooper Memorial Lecture for Essex Beekeepers Association.
  • Sharing ideas about organic gardening at the Quay Theatre, Sudbury, in association with Greener Sudbury.
  • How To Use Topiary In The Garden – a talk for the European Boxwood & Topiary Society via zoom, during lockdown, for a large audience who linked in from all over the world.

Please do contact us and ask about availability. Rarely is an opportunity turned down, even if your group is small or happens to be a long way away!

“Thank you so much for a very enjoyable evening last night.  It has only been a few short hours since you were with us but already there have been so many comments on what a refreshing change it was to the usual gardening club talks.  The debate over square versus round holes was in full swing at the village shop this morning as people collected their morning newspapers.  I think everyone agreed that it could even have gone on for longer so that the varied topics could have been discussed in more detail.  It was so informative and really challenged our existing methods and ways of thinking about gardening.

So from the members of the Terling & Fairstead Gardening Club, I want to send our appreciation and thanks for a great evening.”

Talks Available To Book

Darren currently has FIVE talks you can book, as below.

He can provide a projector and laptop for any presentation, or of course do a talk via Zoom:

What Do I Do With This Space?

The most popular talk with garden clubs around the country!

One of the most important questions you can ask when looking out at your garden – ‘What Do I Do With This Space?’ attempts to find the answer.

It takes in gardens and ideas from all over the world, including Finland, Japan, Uruguay and the Serengeti.

It is enormous fun and provides eye-opening inspiration for those who hear it.

Suitable for gardeners of all abilities.

“Seriously, it was good fun, wasn’t it? And a big thank you to you!”

Carole, South East Essex Organic Gardeners

“He was so enthusiastic, and full of refreshing new ideas – an excellent kick start to our 2016 Programme.”

Glenna, Hartest Garden Club

Diluted

Having moved to Essex from Hampshire in 2014 Darren saw a huge difference in the climate. A gardener in East Anglia has to deal with extra heat, strong, drying winds and a severe lack of rainfall.

This new gardening challenge spurred him on to start exploring how we use water in the garden.

Combining techniques for conserving water with new ideas on what our relationship to water will be in the future, this talk is a fascinating study in how to become a better gardener using the resources you have available.

Watering is not a dull subject, promise!

“I’ve had confirmed from the committee that they would LOVE IT if you could come and talk to us at our March meeting…”

Nikki, New City Girls WI

“Thank YOU for coming and talking to us. I know our members enjoyed the talk very much and were very impressed with your knowledge and enthusiasm.”

Siobhan, Shropshire Organic Gardeners

Clippings

This is a fun talk about topiary, showing off some of the tools available at Modern Mint. There are also plenty of tips for making the most pruned trees and shrubs in your garden.

“I’m so glad to hear that you will be giving your talk in Shrewsbury… I’m sure it will be a great success.”

Elaine

“Thanks for your wonderful talk at the WI last night.”

Sophie

Helping The Honeybee

The talk that is quickly becoming the most popular!

Darren has always gardened with bees and other pollinators in mind. This talk is a bringing together of all the plants your garden needs to make sure it is nectar and pollen rich.

First presented at The Ted Hooper Memorial Lecture in 2017, for Essex Beekeepers Association.

Darren is currently turning this into a book to be published by Northern Bee Books in 2020.

A Very British Garden

This talk is about the common trends in gardens around the UK.

There are common design mistakes, a similarity of planting and a lack of compost making knowledge that seems to hold back British gardens from being the most beautiful places on earth. This talk offers examples, improvements and a few theories about why our gardens look the way they do.

Lots of fun and certainly brings a laughter of recognition from the audience, as we work our way through ‘a very British garden.’

How Do I Book A Talk?

Please send us an email with the following information:

  1. The talk you would like to book
  2. How many people are likely to attend
  3. Where the talk will be held, or if it needs to be online via Zoom
  4. Contact number

We will then get back to you to discuss dates and prices.

To give you a rough idea, talks are £120 for a 50-60 minute presentation with follow up q & a session, for groups of 20 people or more.

If you are further afield the fee is slightly higher.

If your group is smaller, the fee is slightly lower.

If you want a talk via Zoom, it will cost £75.

Please do get in touch and we can negotiate travel expenses and costings.

Don’t be shy, Darren would love to be a speaker at your event – so contact us now.

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 …

READ MORE

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 …

READ MORE

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 …

READ MORE