THE MODERN MINT BLOG
Lent, a Christian religious observance that runs from Ash Wednesday through to Easter Sunday, is a special season for the gardener to – after all, the winter is fighting the onset of spring, the ground is beginning to warm and the daffodils are taking over from the snowdrops to provide a bright fizz of sunshine across the landscape.
But the idea behind Lent is important as well.
For Christians, Lent is a time to deny something from their normal lives. This is used as a way to prepare for Easter, but also gives space to the observer to consider the way they live.
This is the part that really interests us, as a gardener.
Winter is like Lent
The winter is almost a Lenten season for the gardener – the weather stops us getting outside and growing our vegetables and flowers, or trimming our shrubs, or cutting our grass. It is a period of dormancy, of rest, and we find ourselves battening down the hatches of our homes and getting a gardening fix from books and nursery catalogues – the practical nature of gardening is turned theoretical, and the fantasies of what we can grow when spring arrives normally gets us so excited we order vast quantities of new flower seed we will never have the space or time to grow.
(Hurrah to that little ritual, that every gardener knows!)
This space in our lives, this Lenten season, allows us to grow as gardener. It allows us to question and discover the garden we want to have, where we have gone wrong previously and the projects we want to make happen in the coming year.
We love the winter for this and have been busily allowing our thoughts on gardening to run wild. Have you?
With A Little Space…
In previous years we have decided the following about our garden practises:
- We will stop working for clients who insist the only way to garden is with herbicides.
- We will try our hand at topiary.
- We will grow cut flowers for florists (and how we miss that now we no longer do it!)
- We will learn to use a scythe, then start a London-based eco-friendly lawn cutting service where staff dressed in black cowls take their scythes to different small gardens in the city to cut the grass. Staff will take the Tube to get to each garden, so making the world a more wonderful and weird place by populating the Underground with folk dressed as the Grim Reaper carrying his work tools. We loved the idea…
- We will look more deeply into stock-free gardening (that is where you use green manures, not animal products to build soil fertility…)
As you can see, sometimes the Lent season for the gardener gives you the space to come up with a good idea… and sometimes a crazy one too!
Lent, for You
We hope Lent – whether the Christian period or the ‘Gardening Lent of Winter’ we have spoken about today – will encourage you to take part in this practise, to give yourself a little space and think about how you can become a better gardener.
Here’s to Lent!
Over the last two years I have been involved with a couple of projects that have ended up being recorded, then placed on Youtube or Instagram. I’m hoping they will be useful to you, so I have decided this morning to pop them together in one handy blog post so that you can bookmark the page and revisit when you need some inspiration for your topiary. See below then, a few videos about topiary I have recently been involved with… Garden Masterclass – Provocations of a Modern Topiarist Transforming Topiary Topiary Teacher Put On The Spot https://www.instagram.com/p/CTj-EfOKRL6/ In the above …
Mark Zlotsky is an artist based in New York, and today I just wanted to share his project ‘Topiary Tango’. In his introduction to the project he talks of topiary being a forgiving art, which I love and is soooooo true…..! For proof, just take a look at some projects I have made with a sharp pair of shears, a hedgetrimmer and a pruning saw. Do check out Mark Zlotsky’s project, because although his interest began by looking at topiary through the prism of architecture and the relationship of one building to another, he touches directly onto a way of …
Gardenista, the online magazine about gardens and design, have interviewed me about topiary. The article is called ‘Rethinking Topiary: A Garden Tradition Loosened Up’ and was published this morning. Written by the excellent garden writer Clare Coulson, I share some thoughts on using deciduous plants, how to clip (name-dropping Anne Lamott and her book on writing at one stage… oh, how I wander off subject sometimes!) and how to improve topiary by what you plant around it. Do take a look at the article in Gardenista. Or for more about my topiary work, check out the topiary page.