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.

Jan12

A Topiary Calendar – When To Prune

Below are a few pointers on when you need to think about your topiary and hedges this year, so you can make sure you clip at the best time and not waste any effort doing work you don’t need to do… January & February Roses, fruit trees and wisteria is where the focus lies. Yes, it is cold and the work can be unpleasant because you are often stood on a ladder with your secateurs, barely moving enough to warm the body, but get these jobs done well, with care, and you can enjoy the fruits and flowers of your …

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Jan11

The English Garden Magazine – On Our Topiary Workshop

Last September when I and topiary artist (and mentor) Charlotte Molesworth ran a weekend of topiary masterclasses we had a visit from the garden writer Non Morris. You can read more about Non and her garden design work and writings here. She has written a lovely article for the February 2022 edition of The English Garden Magazine about her afternoon working with us and learning about topiary – I’m really thrilled by the piece, because she mentions not just a little of the wonderful history of Balmoral Cottage and how the garden grew, but also shares a little of how …

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Nov17

Topiary Provocation Autumn 2021

This Autumn I have presented another ‘Topiary Provocation’ to keen gardeners and designers. If you want to know more about topiary, the report on what we discussed and where modern topiary is going can be read by clicking the link below: Topiary Provocation Report Autumn 2021 This report is free to post on your own website or blog, just credit Modern Mint, and don’t change anything within it. Alternatively you can just share it with keen friends… or enemies?