THE MODERN MINT BLOG

May01

Jake Hobson and Creative Pruning

Ripe for Pruning

The buxus hedge in the picture above – ripe for pruning!

Jake Hobson is a cloud pruning specialist, and we love his work here at Modern Mint.

But what is creative pruning/organic topiary? It is a step away from the traditional or old-fashioned forms of topiary and into something with a freer form, something that has movement to it, an opulence, a life force. We realise we are heading into esoteric territory here, but we are talking about a creative act, one that works best when hedge and pruner are working together symbiotically… the pruner bringing attention to a shape half hidden, the plant guiding the pruner to how it really wants to grow.

(The other day we heard a philosophy about bringing up children; that your children are only on loan to you, they are not to keep. Try all you might and worry all you will, but one day they will have to go. This gives you something of the flavour of organic topiary – you can exert your influence, but the hedge must also do its own thing!)

There is a lot of fun to be had with the terms associated to Organic Topiary; ‘blobberies’ and ‘twmps’ distort language as much as the style distorts our expectations of the traditional topiary shapes. Formality and grandeur is out, skewed and peculiar are in.

The video below is from a series Carol Klein did in her own garden. In it, Jake Hobson cloud prunes a box hedge (“elevate this hedge into art!” she says) his section starts around the 18.50 mark…

We love what they were trying to do with the hedge, linking its shape to the landscape beyond it…

“It should be natural and organic looking, with just a little bit of definition to it, and nothing too strong or dramatic.”

But imagine pruning it with a sharper intent, to create contrast amongst unrestrained grasses or a meadow. That would look fantastic too.

In his book ‘The Art of Creative Pruning’ Jake Hobson asks where pruning might go next, “… trends change, but for every decline there follows a revival.  The influence of the East will surely continue to grow, along with an informal style of pruning that embraces natural, organic forms. Conversely, formal topiary and traditional western skills will continue to thrive as people refine, and redefine, them.”

We love organic topiary and think it suits modern gardens perfectly – clients want something (if not fully bespoke) then most definitely unusual, and this is the most low impact and gratifying way to deliver it. Do please give us a call if you wish to discuss a possible creative pruning or organic topiary project you might have. The subject is close to our hearts!

Topiary books and Jake Hobson’s ‘The Art of Creative Pruning’…

The Art of Creative Pruning: Inventive Ideas for Training and Shaping Trees and Shrubs

Niwaki: Pruning, Training and Shaping Trees the Japanese Way

Topiary: Garden Craftsmanship in Yew and Box

A Practical Guide to Topiary

… and this beautiful book from Jacques Wirtz…

The Gardens of Wirtz

Jun15

Boxwood – Dealing With Blight & The Caterpillar

Boxwood is one of our absolute favourite plants. The evergreen leaf that shines in winter, the smell as you clip it, the brilliant shapes you can make from it… but it is suffering somewhat from two major problems: Box Blight Boxwood Caterpillar and Moth None of this is the be all and end all for boxwood, but it helps to be aware of it and know a little about what you can do should either of these problems arise. Boxwood Caterpillar & Moth I hadn’t seen this in a garden I worked on until this spring, when a client I …

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Jun06

Orchard Design At Brogdale, National Fruit Collection In Kent

Last weekend I visited the National Fruit Collection at Brogdale, to take part in an orchard design course they were running. Beautiful place and a warm day, I recommend a visit. I came home with 3 bottles of cider. Drank them all. Then realised they were weighing in at 8%. I don’t recover that quickly (no longer being 20 years old) and so had something of a musty head the next morning. The power of apples I say! Below are some notes I made from the day. They may be of use to you, although really they are there for …

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Apr27

Beekeepers – Quick Notes On Plants For Bees

tulips for bees

Fine news for beekeepers today – a total ban on bee-harming pesticides has been announced! To celebrate, here is a list of plants we recommend as being brilliant for the bees: Helenium Sedum Echium vulgare Marjoram or Oregano Eupatorium (common name? Joe Pye-Weed. But don’t let that put you off!) Borage Nepeta Veronicastrum Teucrium Bonus plants for shady spots? Try hellebore, lamium and pulmonaria. Looking for a shrub to plant near your apiary? Phillyrea ought to do it. Although it is difficult to get hold of…. we are working on making it more available though, so check back with Modern …

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