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.

Aug19

Seminar On Topiary Composition

organic topiary blob autumn

Topiary Composition and design is a major part of my work – which is why I have created an online seminar for keen gardeners and creatives to learn how to compose a piece of topiary. There are several dates available so please head here to buy a ticket. The seminar lasts two hours (including q and a) and will explore the process needed to look at a shrub or hedge and work out what you can design from it. These principles have been learnt the hard way – through mentoring, experimenting and years of practise. Hopefully, it will help you shortcut …

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Jun10

Brought By Bike – Topiary Making

Brought By Bike is an excellent website I found last month, where businesses offer their services by (of course) bicycle. Modern Mint and my topiary work is now live on the site offering my topiary services, via bike, to the following two postcodes – CM1 CM2 Now I can imagine I will need to borrow a ladder should anyone have a larger shrub, but most town gardens in the Chelmsford area have a need not just for privacy but to let light into the house… so a balance must be struck when shaping hedges and shrubs to cover both needs. …

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May10

Transforming Topiary

topiary transforming

Transforming Topiary – a video made for the European Boxwood And Topiary Society by Charlotte Molesworth and I, in her garden. We take a dog topiary and work out how to update it, turning it into a bird. Worth a watch I think, and hopefully useful to you! You can see more of my clipping on the topiary page. Or read my Spring 2021 Topiary Provocation here.