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.

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 we share some examples of his words with you, from the books No Nettles Required: The Reassuring Truth About Wildlife Gardening and Do We Need Pandas?: The Uncomfortable Truth About Biodiversity.

“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.”

He 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!

Feb05

Balmoral Cottage, Kent NGS 2019

Darren Topiary

Balmoral Cottage is open! The Yellow Book is back for 2019! My mentor Charlotte Molesworth is opening her garden on several days through April, May and September. And you should definitely go see it! It is amazing! Visit Balmoral Cottage here. The garden is full of topiary and plant treasures. You can see some of the photos here from an article in the Guardian. If you see me there (and you likely will, as I’ll be clipping!) come and say hi! Darren

Jan28

Microbz – Essential Health For You & Your Garden

Microbz is a brand we have been using in the garden for a couple of years now. It is a product made by a company who send a bottle of beneficial microbes, that you mix with water and this addition of ‘life’ helps your soil to improve. (Note – at Microbz there is currently a sale on here. Worth a first try at this price, so you can see the difference for yourself!) Have You Heard About Beneficial Microbes? You may have heard of the health benefits of beneficial microbes for your guts (what a word that is) but these microbes are …

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Jan24

Climate Emergency? Machynlleth? Yes! Yes! & Yes!

This story about Machynlleth declaring itself a town that wants to become carbon zero, is so worth a read. Climate Emergency. It Is A Thing! We have spoken about reducing your carbon footprint, through your garden, before. Have a read here too, about using your garden to capture carbon. And you can make a HUGE DIFFERENCE by changing your energy supplier, starting here with Bulb, a green energy provider.