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.”

Jan12

A Topiary Calendar – When To Prune

When do you prune? Below are a few pointers on when you need to think about your topiary and hedges this year, so you can make sure you clip at the best time and not waste any effort doing work you don’t need to do… January & February Roses, fruit trees and wisteria is where the focus lies. Yes, it is cold and the work can be unpleasant because you are often stood on a ladder with your secateurs, barely moving enough to warm the body, but get these jobs done well, with care, and you can enjoy the fruits …

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Jan11

The English Garden Magazine – On Our Topiary Workshop

Last September when I and topiary artist (and mentor) Charlotte Molesworth ran a weekend of topiary masterclasses we had a visit from the garden writer Non Morris. You can read more about Non and her garden design work and writings here. She has written a lovely article for the February 2022 edition of The English Garden Magazine about her afternoon working with us and learning about topiary – I’m really thrilled by the piece, because she mentions not just a little of the wonderful history of Balmoral Cottage and how the garden grew, but also shares a little of how …

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Nov17

Topiary Provocation Autumn 2021

This Autumn I have presented another ‘Topiary Provocation’ to keen gardeners and designers. If you want to know more about topiary, the report on what we discussed and where modern topiary is going can be read by clicking the link below: Topiary Provocation Report Autumn 2021 This report is free to post on your own website or blog, just credit Modern Mint, and don’t change anything within it. Alternatively you can just share it with keen friends… or enemies? I did a similar meet-up with garden designers in spring 2021. Here is where you can read the Topiary Provocation Spring …

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