THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Jun12

A Garden Design Problem… and a Solution

You decide you need to sort out the garden, so call in a designer.

You tell them what you want, what you like and they (if they’re good) help you discover possibilities you never knew existed. You get excited (if not, get another designer!) and you proceed with transforming your outdoors into something amazing.

You stand on your new terrace, next to your new pond, looking out over your immaculate new lawn, feel the soft feathery leaf of the newly planted Mexican Feather Grass and sniff deeply the perfume of the roses from your new rose garden.

Apples, plums and quince grow in the renewed orchard just beyond the hedge. The meadow is in flower. All is right with the world and you know you have made a fantastic choice.

6 months later and the garden looks a mess.

You stand on your terrace, which needs a sweep, look out over the lawn, which needs a cut, feel the brittle leaf of a dying… you get the picture right?

A garden design problem is – how will you continue to look after the garden when the work is done? There is a brilliant interview Anne Wareham did that suggests gardens are a process, and so design is just buying a starting point. Her interviewee John Sales said:

“in a garden every repeated operation has a cumulative effect – even how you cut the lawn, rake paths, mend fences, or repair buildings. Everything you do in a garden contributes to and is design. Design is not just what you draw on paper.”

We’ve been thinking about this a lot, asking a lot of people – other designers we know would love a service which looks after their ‘starting point’ properly.

How to solve this problem? Remove the expectation of the garden designer from the client – no drawings, no mood boards, no plans – just a designer who can unpack what a client wants and then express it by making the garden. Or, and we think this one will be easier for people to take up – employ a roving head gardener.

Roving Head Gardener is a term Gill Chamberlain of Garden Rescue uses – smart smart idea! – and one we actively encourage others to use. This way, gardens are tended and made, or “sustained by constant adjustment towards a known ideal,” as the John Sales interview says.

Call us if you have had a garden designed and need it looked after. Call us if you need a Roving Head Gardener in Essex, Kent, Hampshire, Berkshire or Surrey. It is a garden design problem… solved.

Recommended Reading (as in, we hope these inspire you to make a garden!):

This is Anne Wareham’s (who did the interview we’ve quoted above) book.

And if you need a giggle, or a silly present for Father’s Day… try this…

Sep29

New Topiary In South London Out Of Yew

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 …

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Sep27

Topiary Teacher – Put on The Spot!

topiary teacher

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 …

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Sep27

Book Yourself A Topiary Workshop 2022

organic topiary snow

Charlotte Molesworth, my topiary mentor, and I are running our popular topiary workshop again in 2022. You can email me for details – or go here for information, your ticket and to find out about dates. Book A Spot On A Topiary Workshop, September 2022