THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Mar04

Hardy Orchids Via James Wong

Hardy orchids – here is a subject I would love to know more about – so lo and behold, James Wong has written about it in the Guardian!

Read the article about hardy orchids here.

I love having orchids in the house, just your usual run of the mill buy them in any shop orchids, but it is a pleasure to read about the plants that will grow outside and cope with this weather.

(This insane weather! From the hottest days of February on record to Storm Freya, all within a week. Weather is always such a factor in gardening, but these extremes are so weird are they now to become the norm? If, like me, you care about your carbon footprint and the effect it is having on the climate, then you can start trying to reduce it by taking one simple action – switching to a green energy supplier now! I am pushing this a lot at the moment for two reasons – we need to do more to reduce the impact of carbon released into the atmosphere, and because we both get a financial benefit from the supplier if you sign up. They are a good company and I back what they do and like to be a part of it. Join now and make a difference in the easiest way possible.)

Hardy Orchids For Your Garden

Which orchids does James Wong suggest we grow?

  • Habenaria radiata – known as the Egret Orchid. Which if you know the bird, gives you a pretty good idea of what the flower looks like! Hardy down to -5.
  • Cypripedium ‘Emil’ – slipper orchid, hardy down to -20.
  • Calanthe ‘Takane’ – taller than the others, with flowers 50cm high. Generous in flower.

He also recommends, as an extra bonus, Bletilla and Pleione.

What a kind man to point us in the hardy orchid direction!

Orchids in Southend

A few years ago the Council forgot, or were late, cutting the verges on the road into Southend-on-Sea. Bee orchids came up, and looked amazing. Especially as it was such a surprise to see them, no-on heaven planted them in the first place.

The Council then got caught up with work and cut them down, but that is what can happen when you do things by the book. You tick a box and don’t see what is in front of you, looking beautiful.

I’m pretty sure there is a lesson in that. A not very subtle one either!

Do make sure you check out the article and explore these hardy orchids. I know I will…. and who knows, they may become the subject of other talk for the future. Much like my plant experiments from the last few years went into my latest talk ‘A Very British Garden’.

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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Apr27

Kites And Strings Podcast – Topiary In The Garden

kites and strings podcast

Kites and Strings is a podcast about creativity, hosted by US-based Stephen Ploum and Catherine Chinnock. Back in March they asked me to come onto their podcast and talk about topiary, my past writing plays, the stand-up I did and how creativity can fit into your life. The Kites and Strings podcast was great fun and Stephen and Catherine are fantastic hosts. Listening back today I am surprised by some of the ideas I talked about (somehow I even started to describe a future where I run a ‘School of Creativity’ by the sea…. where did that come from?!) but it …

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Apr27

Robinia – Pruning A Beautiful Tree For Small Gardens

topiary Robinia

Robinia is often forgotten – by me, actually! – when thinking of plants for topiary. But when I work on it I do love it, brittle and soft as the wood is if you climb into it. But that danger of snapping a branch with a heavy step and falling out of the tree aside, I love it for the dappled light it allows into the garden space. Robinia Near The Sea Below is a Robinia I have gently clipped over the last few years, down near Leigh-on-Sea in Essex. The tree was large when I arrived, although it is …

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