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 recently wrote a piece for Topiarius magazine, the flagship publication of the European Boxwood & Topiary Society – of which Modern Mint is both a member and big supporter. Check out the EBTS here. They frequently run courses and talks too, so worth keeping an eye on. Below is the piece I wrote about the tools I use when making topiary and pruning trees…. Darren’s Piece In Topiarius Magazine I use Okatsune Secateurs, which I started pruning with when working on a large orchard in Hampshire. My Felco’s were too difficult to open with cold hands, but the chunky …
Just inc are you are free in the following dates in June, you can visit my mentor Charlotte Molesworth’s topiary garden… Check out the dates the garden is open here. And you can of course join both Charlotte and I for a topiary workshop in the garden in July, as well as September. Hope to see you there!
The Nunki weeder has been talked about by Jane Perrone in the newspaper (the Guardian, if you are interested. At the weekend.) She said this about our lovely weeding tool… “Getting on top of annual weeds such as hairy bittercress and speedwell can be tedious. The Nunki weeder has a curved blade that allows for precision work around plants….” There you go – a weeder for precision work, not an avocado destoner as someone once said to me. Take a closer look at the Nunki weeder now.