THE MODERN MINT BLOG
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.”
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 …
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 …
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