THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Jan19

The Gardener as Playwright

We want to quote today from a book by playwright Steve Waters – The Secret Life Of Plays – as we think it ties in beautifully with a way of thinking about gardening and garden design.

“A play is a space to house a human story and must have give and, well, ‘play’ in it.”

We love this. The quote has important words in, like ‘space ‘and ‘house’ and ‘story’… ‘human’ and ‘give’… the word ‘play’ is so significant it is repeated, and the second time given its own quotation marks!

But replace the word ‘play’ with ‘garden’ (after all, it is ‘gardening’ that we are interested in here) and you get this…

“A garden is a space to house a human story and must have give and, well, ‘garden’ in it.”

When you look at your garden and think about what to do with it – remember that the most important part is not how it looks, but how the people who are going to use it can define themselves against it. Will their human story be one of rest and relaxation, or fun with friends, or a place to play football and cricket? Will they wish to welcome wildlife? Or will the garden be a chemical war-zone designed to fulfill a powerful ambition as dictator of the land, master of all that tries to reside there?

Looking at your garden as a human story that you get to tell – whoever and however many the audience are – moves you from gardener to playwright (‘wright’ means builder, or crafter.)

We would like to think that to look at your garden as a crafter of human stories would mean a release from any worry about whether you are gardening well, or right, or wrong… or any other judgement whatsoever… and give you the space and sense of ‘play’ that enables you to enjoy your garden, to look with kind eyes on your efforts, and best of all use your land to ‘give’ to those around you.

We leave you with this, another quote from the same book by Steve Waters… and wish you all the best as you ‘play’…

“The best work… is where there is a struggle between the elegance of the structure and the raw feeling of what it contains.”

Nov13

Learn To Clip Topiary Workshop 2020

topiary artists

I am running a topiary workshop in 2020 with the wonderful topiary artist Charlotte Molesworth at her spectacular topiary garden in Kent. This is a topiary workshop where you will learn to clip, so be prepared to do some cutting. We start with a tour of the garden, which Charlotte and her husband Donald have been cultivating for 34 years. It is organic, full of wildlife and has the most extraordinary pruned shapes made from yew and boxwood. You can see more photos of the garden in an article in the Guardian here: Topiary Garden In Kent What Else Will …

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Oct09

Hardy Plant Society Middlesex Talk Notes

On Monday night I gave a talk to the Hardy Plant Society Middlesex. Below are a few links for further information based on some of the ideas discussed in the talk: Real Seeds – a fantastic supplier of fruit and vegetable seeds for growers. Boxwood Caterpillar Advice – from the European Boxwood & Topiary Society. I will also write a little companion piece this winter with more information and some topiary techniques, so watch out for that on this website. Boxwood Lure & Nematodes – my preferred option for dealing with the caterpillar. Discount code for 10% off is EBTSBOX29GBZ …

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