Graffiti by Shane Koyczan

We have shared before a poem by Shane Koyczan, Canadian poet (and all round good egg…)

He is currently touring the UK, so check out his website and see if he will be performing near you.

This is his latest work, which we share on Modern Mint for a few reasons – the first is that we like it. That is important. The second is that we need to hear many different voices in life, to help us make sense of it.

We can’t just focus on the garden, because what are we making the garden for?

Thirdly, we get these unasked for (spam!) emails from marketing companies who list all the ways we are ‘doing it wrong at Modern Mint….’

They are probably right, but then again we are not here just to SELL MORE STUFF.

We also help people make their gardens better, hence the projects and blog posts to:

Capture Carbon In Your Garden

Plant Early Flowering Shrubs For The Bees

Grow Your Own Cut Flowers

One email we received from a marketing company last week told us…

“Some of your articles and social media is just plain weird.”

Thank goodness for that! We wouldn’t want to be dull!

So here you go, in our quest to be interesting, to share with you all sorts of ‘cultural vitamins’, to help you relate to a life that is about more than just gardening… another poem by the wonderful, currently on tour in the UK, poet Shane Koyczan….



There are stars
now long gone
who threw their last spears of light
across an unending darkness
but to us
they will ever only be
the stars we see our entire lives

they will never extinguish

if you ever need a reminder of the definition of I don’t know

consider that some of the light we see
comes from sources that vanished eons ago

which means maybe everything
is still exploding

I don’t know

our questions are tough pills to swallow
not exactly chew able vitamins

and yet the confidence in our uncertainty
somehow gives us permission
to hold one another’s sins
to each other’s noses
like a puppy held to their own shit
like a child’s arm to a cigarette

we turn regret into a hobby
doubt into a pastime
all of this while the winds of change dodge each chime
and the awful sameness of our pain rings out
like a sound we cannot stop hearing

fearing the worst
has become a career option for the brave

our leaders save themselves the trouble of having to care
until the graves dug by mental illness
make mercy a platform worth standing on

put the heart that goes out to us
back in your chest and start breathing
you have work to do

thoughts and prayers are not enough

not when there are razor blades so clever
that they bluff their way past the security guards of our compassion
and cross some wrists like the finish line for a marathon
we are too tired to keep running

not when there are nooses so cunning
that they tangle themselves away from usefulness
and refuse to become the rope needed
to pull us out of this nosedive
we are rehearsing for

I want to believe
that the sleeping pills scattered on your floor
are just dreams you dropped by accident
or the nightmares you tried to flush

but I know what they’re for

they’re for when the insistence of love sounds like a noise
you cannot bring yourself to listen to any longer

they’re for when you want to unplug the speakers
from the stereo
to go as silent as 3:42 am
when the only things still staring back at you
are the stars that might not even be there anymore

some of us run full force toward a closed door
that we come up against like a wall
but others bust through and fall into a room padded with oblivion
that time then seals shut forever

we cannot hit rewind on this track

your song plays only so long as you keep singing it
without you
we will not know the lyrics

I know you are tired of singing
I know your throat is sore
and your voice raw from overuse

I know that tomorrow can feel like an abuse
you are about to suffer

I know how tempting it can be
to want to put a period on the end of this incomplete sentence
because is anybody even reading this?

I don’t know

but maybe there is a paintbrush
that can carve it out better than a blade

because the things I’ve seen made from pain
are works of art
that hang in a gallery
displaying sculptures of relief

maybe when autumn turns a green leaf yellow
its stem becomes a string tightened to a cello
playing the song you never knew you loved most

maybe somewhere there is a ghost
wearing silk sheets
hoping to haunt the living a little more softly

maybe some ghost stories are true

maybe somewhere there is someone
who will love you better
I don’t know

I’m not certain of any of this
but at times I take comfort in leaning on the shoulder of I don’t know

to rest against the splendour it provides

it promises what could be
never what will be

I don’t know if love
is a talented enough hound
to track down any of us

but it could be

I don’t know

our lives are labrynths
and I’m lost too

I dance through its dungeons
I stumble through it’s halls
I vanish while I cry the invisible ink
I use to write my mind upon its walls.



Selection Of Topiary Videos To Help You Clip

Over the last two years I have been involved with a couple of projects that have ended up being recorded, then placed on Youtube or Instagram. I’m hoping they will be useful to you, so I have decided this morning to pop them together in one handy blog post so that you can bookmark the page and revisit when you need some inspiration for your topiary. See below then, a few videos about topiary I have recently been involved with… Garden Masterclass – Provocations of a Modern Topiarist Transforming Topiary Topiary Teacher Put On The Spot In the above …



Mark Zlotsky – Topiary Tango In New York

Mark Zlotsky is an artist based in New York, and today I just wanted to share his project ‘Topiary Tango’. In his introduction to the project he talks of topiary being a forgiving art, which I love and is soooooo true…..! For proof, just take a look at some projects I have made with a sharp pair of shears, a hedgetrimmer and a pruning saw. Do check out Mark Zlotsky’s project, because although his interest began by looking at topiary through the prism of architecture and the relationship of one building to another, he touches directly onto a way of …



Gardenista Interview – I Talk About Modern Topiary

Gardenista, the online magazine about gardens and design, have interviewed me about topiary. The article is called ‘Rethinking Topiary: A Garden Tradition Loosened Up’ and was published this morning. Written by the excellent garden writer Clare Coulson, I share some thoughts on using deciduous plants, how to clip (name-dropping Anne Lamott and her book on writing at one stage… oh, how I wander off subject sometimes!) and how to improve topiary by what you plant around it. Do take a look at the article in Gardenista. Or for more about my topiary work, check out the topiary page.