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

Feb05

Balmoral Cottage, Kent NGS 2019

Darren Topiary

Balmoral Cottage is open! The Yellow Book is back for 2019! My mentor Charlotte Molesworth is opening her garden on several days through April, May and September. And you should definitely go see it! It is amazing! Visit Balmoral Cottage here. The garden is full of topiary and plant treasures. You can see some of the photos here from an article in the Guardian. If you see me there (and you likely will, as I’ll be clipping!) come and say hi! Darren

Jan28

Microbz – Essential Health For You & Your Garden

Microbz is a brand we have been using in the garden for a couple of years now. It is a product made by a company who send a bottle of beneficial microbes, that you mix with water and this addition of ‘life’ helps your soil to improve. (Note – at Microbz there is currently a sale on here. Worth a first try at this price, so you can see the difference for yourself!) Have You Heard About Beneficial Microbes? You may have heard of the health benefits of beneficial microbes for your guts (what a word that is) but these microbes are …

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Jan24

Climate Emergency? Machynlleth? Yes! Yes! & Yes!

This story about Machynlleth declaring itself a town that wants to become carbon zero, is so worth a read. Climate Emergency. It Is A Thing! We have spoken about reducing your carbon footprint, through your garden, before. Have a read here too, about using your garden to capture carbon. And you can make a HUGE DIFFERENCE by changing your energy supplier, starting here with Bulb, a green energy provider.