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.

Mar19

Wasting Water

Well worth a read in the BBC today – a note on how wasting water in the UK “as socially unacceptable as blowing smoke in the face of a baby.” Read the report here. I have written a talk about how we use water in the  garden. It was written when I moved from Hampshire to Essex and found out for myself just how dry this area of the UK is. It completely changed the way I garden. The lack of such a precious resource as water made me question what we can do to save it, store it and …

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Mar14

The Foie Gras That Tastes Like Nature

Ethical Foie Gras? Is That A Real Thing?   Foie gras – can it be ‘grown’ ethically? The video showing how this farmer works suggests it can… We first read about this in a book called The Third Plate by Dan Barber. I loved it and I love how Eduardo the farmer, who farms on the Dehesa in Spain, has a ‘take half leave half rule’. When talking about how the geese eat his olives… “They’re always quite fair. If you make sure the geese are relaxed and happy, you’ll be rewarded with the gift of fatty livers. That is God’s …

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Mar04

Hardy Orchids Via James Wong

Hardy orchids – here is a subject I would love to know more about – so lo and behold, James Wong has written about it in the Guardian! Read the article about hardy orchids here. I love having orchids in the house, just your usual run of the mill buy them in any shop orchids, but it is a pleasure to read about the plants that will grow outside and cope with this weather. (This insane weather! From the hottest days of February on record to Storm Freya, all within a week. Weather is always such a factor in gardening, but …

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