THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Apr16

Gilding the Lily – Amy Stewart (Part Four)

This is the fourth part in our series about the fabulous book Amy Stewart wrote on the cut flower industry, ‘Gilding the Lily’.

You can read previous blogs here:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

It is a fascinating book that tries to describe what life is like for cut flower growers (and sellers) around the world. Do you buy this ‘luxury’ item from a country where people depend on growing flowers for an income, or does it not really help them in the long run? These are tough decisions to make, as any action you take affects a long chain of people.

We personally had a ball when we grew cut flowers for florists, and quickly discovered the amazing quality flowers from your own garden have. They last longer, they smell better, they aren’t grown with chemicals and the choice is far far better – because you decide what to grow, and each month something new will thrust its way forward to be seen. You will also start looking everywhere for that elusive cut flower – hedges become a place to discover treasures you have never thought of using, banks of earth grow flowering diamonds you can’t wait to take home, and climbers that have grown too large, too vigorously, become new material for your next vase.

Even vases become a tough choice as you hone your floristry eye…

Vase 'Vivien'

It also challenges the mind – you look at the flower you want to cut, and you have to work out how best to treat it to make it last as long as possible. Your technical ability gets stretched. It is great for you to grow cut flowers.

But here is what Amy Stewart has to say about the cut flower industry, especially growers from abroad… this quote is from an organic flower farm…

Amy Stewart on working conditions for organic flower growers…

“In the production room I had to ask why the workers wore so little protective gear – just a rubber apron and gloves…

‘When you use less chemicals, you don’t need all the protection.’

That’s when I realised that what I couldn’t see made all the difference. What they weren’t doing was every bit as important as what they were doing…”

In one company in Ecuador the women who harvested the flower would write their name on a label – this bouquet is handmade by… – it is a way to add soul to a product, but also remind people of the work that went into these flowers, that their is a craft and a provenance to what you buy.

We hope you will look through our other blog posts about Amy Stewart, as well as looking at her book Gilding the Lily.

But more than anything, we hope you will try and grow you own flowers at home – it really is a wonderful way to get out into the garden.

(Try our cut flower kit below, to make sure you have everything you need!)

Cut Flower Kit

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