THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Mar18

Ken Thompson, Botanist

We are big fans of the botanist and author Ken Thompson, who was a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Sheffield.

Ken Thompson – His Books Make Learning Fun

His books are accessible, fun and full of information. Which makes for pretty good reading.

What they do best though, is introduce you to ideas that you will be inspired by and interested in discovering more about.

So below we share some examples of Ken Thompson’s words with you, from two of his books –

“The best single thing you can do for wildlife in your garden is to find a young tree and leave it alone. Failing that, plant one.”

“Long grass is good for wildlife, and in short supply in gardens. If you want to leave some long grass, while at the same time convincing the neighbours that you are not some kind of dope-smoking layabout, by all means introduce wildflowers into the grass and call it a wildflower meadow. Most wildlife, however, will take no notice of the flowers – it’s interested in the undisturbed long grass…”

“Maintaining soil carbon is easy: make as much compost as you can, grow lots of plants and go easy on the digging… in the UK, plants conatin only just over 1 per cent of our total national store of organic carbon – the rest is in the soil.”

“…grow as many different flowering plants as you can, and make sure you cover the whole year, from Mahonia for the queen bumblebee that needs a snack on a warm day in February, to ivy for the butterflies that need one last fill up before the winter.”

“As we become wealthier and eat more meat and processed foods, and acquire more consumer goods, vast quantities of water are needed for their production… every small bag of imported salad from the supermarket exports another 50 litres of drought to the Kenyans who grew it…”

“…the new, fertile landscape created by intensive farming delivers cheap food (for animals and people) in unprecedented quantities… unfortunately that’s all it delivers. The challenge is to devise multifunctional landscapes that also deliver better water quality, less soil erosion, more carbon storage and healthier and happier livestock, and are also less dependent on cheap oil…”

“In evolutionary terms, the Cape’s plants are astonishingly young, which perhaps explains how many of them manage to be so rare – there are only a few hundred individuals of many Proteaceae. Are these future successes at the start of their careers, or failed evolutionary experiments on their way to extinction?”

“Birdlife International reckons that with £19 million over the next five years, they could save from extinction all the world’s 189 critically endangered bird species… I’ve seen such sums described by conservationists as ‘vast’, but it’s hard to see why. For some reason it’s seen as naive to point out that tiny fractions of military budgets could pay for this without anyone really noticing.”

Ken Thompson also writes for the Telegraph, articles like this one on using crocks for drainage in pots…

It is a classic example of how he makes you question and think about traditional gardening advice.

On Thursday his new book Where Do Camels Belong?: The story and science of invasive species is out on Amazon. Discounted at the time of writing!

Or you can read more from him on this blog post about his Panda book.

May15

Garden Talks Via Zoom

I do lots of garden talks to clubs and societies all over the UK. You can see my subjects and how to book here – How to Book A Garden Talk. But obviously life has changed hugely, with Covid-19 and the fact we are all in isolation. This has not stopped a few intrepid garden clubs from asking me if we can still meet and discuss gardening – this time via Zoom. To Zoom Or Not to Zoom? I have weighed up doing talks via video link before. In the ‘for’ category, it would reduce my carbon footprint. I do …

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Apr16

The Impact Of Not Clipping

not clipping

The Impact Of Not Clipping Your Topiary Or Hedges This question has been on my mind recently, as we appear to be heading into a fourth week of lockdown due to Covid-19 (how extraordinary I hope this blog post reads, in a few months time, as we look back and remember what sad and strange happenings these were… at least I hope that this will read strange, as soon as possible, as if almost like a bad dream…) It is early spring and so there is no need right now to be clipping hedges. Leave them for the common UK birds …

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Apr15

Capture Carbon In Your Front Garden

residential front garden

I was asked recently whether I could give advice on how to use a small front garden to capture carbon. A great question and certainly one worth answering. So if you are keen to reduce your environmental impact, and have a little front garden space that you can transform, read on below for a few bits of advice – I hope it helps you make a beautiful front garden that improves the landscape, the air quality, the planet and the joy in the lives of everyone who walks past it! Carbon Capture In The Front Garden Using your front garden as a carbon sink …

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