THE MODERN MINT BLOG
The video features Monty Don visiting different gardens in South Africa. If you watch a short section from 26-30 minutes you will see him with a man named Donovan, who has a garden called L’il Eden in Cape Town.
“I see myself as an artist…” Donovan says, “… I come to my garden, I experiment, I play around with the rocks… it’s always changing.”
The garden is also used to run a project introducing children to the pleasures of gardening. Donovan has a very clear idea of what his garden does for people, and what his role is to the garden.
What role do you take in your own outdoor space? What attitude do you view your garden with?
This is an endlessly fascinating question, and the answer you give more often than not reflects the garden you end up with. Someone who sees it as hard work will probably have lots of hard landscaping. Someone who loves wildlife and nature will probably let weeds grow in the pathways. Someone who loves flowers will probably have the ‘big four’ – ornamental poppies, iris, peonies and delphiniums – with a fair few roses too.
Henk Gerritsen wrote ‘don’t whinge.’ A good attitude to cultivate as things can often go wrong in the garden!
Architectural Plants say ‘be bold and avoid being timid.’
While Strilli Oppenheimer put “we seek to combine forces with nature rather than fighting against it, and to explore the boundaries between garden and nature. In doing so, we have created a haven to an abundance of insect and animal life, fungi and indigenous flora. This is our legacy, our investment in the future.”
All of them strong, clear viewpoints on what a garden can be. So to help your garden, spend as much time cultivating your attitude to it as you do cultivating the soil. How you think about the landscape in front of you, and the world around you, needs every bit as much time, attention and love as your plants do.
And as for us here at Modern Mint – what attitude do we take? We want to invite you to see any outdoor space through our eyes, whether it be a field, a garden, a pot, or the bare soil of a traffic island – a place of potential beauty, that can be transformed in a way that has a positive impact on people as well as the planet.
We want you to be so excited about your garden that you feel like you can jump over the moon. That, for us, is the attitude we take.
Great books to read and, we hope, inspire you…
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.
Phillyrea is one of my favourite plants for topiary. I have been using it for quite a few years as a specimen shrub, mostly due to the fact it clips well and has a tough habit – all good characteristics for a topiary plant. It also has a reputation for being an excellent nectar source for bees… Read more about Phillyrea here. Mentioning this to Malcolm Thicke, a market garden historian and writer, he sent me a some photos of topiary and phillyrea mentioned by John Worlidge in Systema Horticulturae from 1682…. incredible! He also mentioned to me that in …
Kites and Strings is a podcast about creativity, hosted by US-based Stephen Ploum and Catherine Chinnock. Back in March they asked me to come onto their podcast and talk about topiary, my past writing plays, the stand-up I did and how creativity can fit into your life. The Kites and Strings podcast was great fun and Stephen and Catherine are fantastic hosts. Listening back today I am surprised by some of the ideas I talked about (somehow I even started to describe a future where I run a ‘School of Creativity’ by the sea…. where did that come from?!) but it …