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.

Nov13

Learn To Clip Topiary Workshop 2020

topiary artists

I am running a topiary workshop in 2020 with the wonderful topiary artist Charlotte Molesworth at her spectacular topiary garden in Kent. This is a topiary workshop where you will learn to clip, so be prepared to do some cutting. We start with a tour of the garden, which Charlotte and her husband Donald have been cultivating for 34 years. It is organic, full of wildlife and has the most extraordinary pruned shapes made from yew and boxwood. You can see more photos of the garden in an article in the Guardian here: Topiary Garden In Kent What Else Will …

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Oct09

Hardy Plant Society Middlesex Talk Notes

On Monday night I gave a talk to the Hardy Plant Society Middlesex. Below are a few links for further information based on some of the ideas discussed in the talk: Real Seeds – a fantastic supplier of fruit and vegetable seeds for growers. Boxwood Caterpillar Advice – from the European Boxwood & Topiary Society. I will also write a little companion piece this winter with more information and some topiary techniques, so watch out for that on this website. Boxwood Lure & Nematodes – my preferred option for dealing with the caterpillar. Discount code for 10% off is EBTSBOX29GBZ …

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