Lockdown Thinking, Changes A-Coming…

Lockdown has given me a chance to look through old notebooks and begin, gently, to piece together some sort of narrative about Modern Mint and how it has grown over the last six years.

And it has changed massively in that time!

Modern Mint Now, June Lockdown 2020

I currently make and maintain topiary all over the UK for clients who love well-pruned hedges and sculptures. I love this job – it is a beautiful art.

not made by power tools

In the winter I prune wisteria, roses and fruit trees in orchards. Much colder, shorter work days… but equally satisfying work.

wisteria pruning from winter

I give talks all over the country too, now even offering them via Zoom, so that I can help people learn. I also run workshops at the garden of Charlotte Molesworth, my topiary mentor!

topiary artists

I sell a range of handmade tools that adhere to the mantra ‘buy once, buy well’… the opposite of cheap, throw-away stuff that you don’t really need in order to garden, that was mass-produced somewhere else then flown in to the UK.

I do consultations for people who want help improving their gardens.

I plant trees (you can too!) and try to reduce my carbon footprint as much as possible.

As much fun as it is, it is also a busy life. Lockdown has given me a rare chance to breathe, step back, look… and hopefully refine what I am doing and offering.

So changes are a-coming in the next few months, all for the better of course, for both you and me. Below I will lay out what I am hoping to do next.

Post Lockdown Changes…

Running Modern Mint gives me the freedom to focus on what I do best – pruning topiary and hedges for clients who want something beautiful.

Time in lockdown has reminded me I like certain things, like:

  • Being outside.
  • Working with my hands, working physically.
  • Creating something that makes people happy, that improves their landscape.

By keeping Modern Mint as a company of one, it does mean I have more administrative work to do, but it also keeps costs low – meaning I can pick and choose the most interesting topiary and pruning projects.

topiary design duck

It is also easier to work quietly, make it a meditation, when you work alone. You can focus and be present, letting the topiary shape unfold to your rhythm as you clip.

This quietness, this calmness, this allowing and being present of the moment is one of the reasons I always wrote through my twenties.

I liked my own company and seeing what I could create by bringing my attention to the work at hand. Has turned out that lockdown suits my temperament, although not being able to garden so much and be outside is rubbish.

One major change coming after lockdown is that I will take way the Modern Mint Shop. Packing and sending out tools, keeping on top of stock levels, working with suppliers… it is a hassle to be honest. It takes away so much energy from doing the pruning.

The talks as well – they go well, and are enormous fun, but is there a better way to teach? To help people learn and think about gardening? It may be that I do less in the future, but make it more practical and workshop based…

Less talks will also mean I travel less, reducing my carbon footprint. Necessary! (And hasn’t it been great to see nature thrive with less human activity….?)

For The Future Then, Modern Mint Will Be…

  1. Just me, working outside, creating.
  2. Living lightly.
  3. Doing great work for clients.

topiary art

So watch this space. And for now, if you want help with topiary or pruning, do get in touch.


Brought By Bike – Topiary Making

Brought By Bike is an excellent website I found last month, where businesses offer their services by (of course) bicycle. Modern Mint and my topiary work is now live on the site offering my topiary services, via bike, to the following two postcodes – CM1 CM2 Now I can imagine I will need to borrow a ladder should anyone have a larger shrub, but most town gardens in the Chelmsford area have a need not just for privacy but to let light into the house… so a balance must be struck when shaping hedges and shrubs to cover both needs. …



Transforming Topiary

topiary transforming

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 From 1682

Worlidge Phillyrea

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 …