THE MODERN MINT BLOG
We come back to James Van Sweden a lot on this blog – and the start of this interview sums up for us the reason why!
In it, James Van Sweden says this about his garden design work with Wolfgang Oehme:
“We never took it too seriously… because then you don’t have any fun, and you don’t create really fabulous gardens.”
Gardening is fun! And remembering that, cultivating that, will help you on more than one account – a sense of humour about your garden helps you to realise the inconsequential nature of your delphiniums being eaten by slugs, or the dog smashing up your daffodils as she chases her ball…
It also aids you in creating those ‘fabulous gardens’ that Van Sweden and Oehme seek. And why not set the bar that high? What is stopping you from having a garden that good?
Lack of knowledge maybe, but that can be remedied.
Conditions? Learn to work with them.
Resources – financial and physical? That shouldn’t stop you – gardeners are by nature a thrifty bunch (generous too – most people who love their garden will love to share plants with you too) and a few packets of seed is all you need to get started. Or you can of course just let nature plant what it wants to plant there…
As for the physical resources – time can be found (we have planted bulbs by torchlight before) and the body is more than capable of finding a way to garden. Gardening may appear back breaking but it engages so many muscles, in a light way, that you can still hold a conversation whilst having a workout. That must be better for you than pounding away on a rowing machine, right?
The only thing stopping you from having a fabulous garden is attitude – the want to do it, the sense of fun and joy necessary to do it. That is why the video above of James Van Sweden was lovely for us to find – we realise now that is what brings us back to him again and again.
(Well, that, allayed to his brilliant and colourful work. This is from a book called The Minimalist Garden, detailing some of the practices James Van Sweden uses in his garden design work…
“They have established a unique and memorable formula which involves a strong underlying plan, overplanted in the most striking style. This creates the perfect blank canvas for great swathes of perennial planting and ornamental grasses. The results resemble huge 20th century paintings set within a gigantic gallery.
Within the compositions there are complexities and subtleties, but it is assured… this is a complete contrast to styles prevalent in Europe, where even the new trends in perennial planting involve a much greater variety of plants…
… (it is) a look which is more akin to an intimate, self-seeded, meadow-inspired composition.”
For more on James Van Sweden, see James Van Sweden Part 2.
I was asked by the European Boxwood & Topiary Society to help out with answering a common question – How to sharpen your shears? So we spent a fun day making a video, that hopefully will help you make sure you have sharp, shiny blades to do your topiary pruning with. And you can find here more examples of the topiary I make with my sharp blades.
You can get a ticket for this new talk I’m giving at the European Boxwood And Topiary Society here – TALK TICKETS It is on the 25th August at 6pm. It should be great fun and I’m very excited to be sharing some recent thoughts about topiary with people – and how it might work in a modern garden.
If you have a subscription, you can check out an article about bespoke ideas for your garden in the Telegraph. There are some great crafts people there, so check it out. Click Here To See The Article About my Topiary Work In The Telegraph