THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Mar05

James Van Sweden (Part 3)

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…

Cute Dog
A guilty culprit?

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.”

The Minimalist Garden)

For more on James Van Sweden, see James Van Sweden Part 2.

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.