THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Mar06

Harlow Beekeepers

Last Thursday night I was invited to give a talk ‘Planting for Pollinators’ at Harlow Bees, a beekeeping group who help promote the craft of keeping bees in Harlow.

It was an interesting evening exploring how two complementary crafts – beekeeping and gardening – co-exist in there similar aims of helping bees (and other pollinators.)

Below are some notes answering questions the group asked me from the talk:

1. The Best Plants For Bees

  • helenium
  • sedum
  • oregano
  • borage
  • veronicastrum
  • teucrium
  • calamint
  • eupatorium
  • centaurea
  • lavender

This research comes from the work done by Rosi Rollings at Rosybee. She has been asking the question ‘which bee-friendly plants attract the most bees?’

You can read why and how she set-up this work in this interview we made with her a few years ago.

2. This is what Helenium, the most valuable plant for bees, looks like…

helenium best plant for bees

It is easy to grow, makes a great cut flower and is beautiful too. Get it into your gardens!

3. Remember the following when choosing flowers for the garden…

Right plant, right place – a happy, healthy plant growing in conditions it enjoys will provide preferred forage for the bees.

Plant in blocks of flowers, so that bees don’t waste energy trying to find another nectar/pollen source.

Get some blossoming trees into your gardener early in the year.

Topiary is easier to look after – a plant like Escallonia is great for clipping but also a bee magnet, so can be left uncut (and so full of flowers) until it grows too large for your garden… then you can easily reduce it down to size and let it start growing again, year on year.

escallonia for bees
Escallonia, a bee magnet

4. Using Pesticides, Herbicides or Insecticides will harm your bees

If your garden flowers are suffering from pest damage, plant trees. These will provide somewhere for birds to visit, who in turn will deal with the bug problem.

No flower is too important or special it needs to be sprayed with a poison to make it look better. Plus, the best flowers for bees normally don’t show the art of the plant breeder – note the Helenium above!

5. Plant organic bulbs

You can read all about that in this blog Organic Bulbs.

Or via John Walker, the Earth Friendly Gardener, in the Telegraph.

We will make an order for Bee Friendly Bulbs in the summer, so will let you know then if you want to buy some!


If you live in and around Harlow and want to know more about bees and beekeeping – why not get in touch with the group?

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