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.”

Jun10

Brought By Bike – Topiary Making

Brought By Bike is an excellent website I found last month, where businesses offer their services by (of course) bicycle. Modern Mint and my topiary work is now live on the site offering my topiary services, via bike, to the following two postcodes – CM1 CM2 Now I can imagine I will need to borrow a ladder should anyone have a larger shrub, but most town gardens in the Chelmsford area have a need not just for privacy but to let light into the house… so a balance must be struck when shaping hedges and shrubs to cover both needs. …

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May10

Transforming Topiary

topiary transforming

Transforming Topiary – a video made for the European Boxwood And Topiary Society by Charlotte Molesworth and I, in her garden. We take a dog topiary and work out how to update it, turning it into a bird. Worth a watch I think, and hopefully useful to you! You can see more of my clipping on the topiary page. Or read my Spring 2021 Topiary Provocation here.

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 …

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