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?

May03

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 https://www.instagram.com/p/CTj-EfOKRL6/ In the above …

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May03

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 …

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Apr27

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.