THE MODERN MINT BLOG
What I love are great tools and products that have an eco-friendly, sustainable aspect to them.
But what I can’t do is have absolutely everything here online, or in our stock room. Where I live just isn’t big enough. Plus Modern Mint is only me, with occasional help, so I really do have to make sure I am only offering you keen gardeners the very best tools. This way, you are happy and come back and buy more when (or if) you need it.
And I can get on with gardening. The real job!
(I can only imagine what would happen if I sold something shoddy. For a start, I wouldn’t be able to keep up with all the apologising. But where a bigger company can afford to automate this ‘sorry, here is your credit’ process, or have a team of people reading off a script exactly what they need to do to placate the customer, I would be the one fielding phone calls. It is hard enough to keep up with the calls in summer for garden talks and topiary work as it is. I shiver at the thought of doing it because I sold something rubbish, or that I don’t actually use in the garden and know works!)
But there are a few products out there that I love. A few companies who make things I just think are great. Perhaps one day Modern Mint will grow to a size where I can stock these items myself. That would be brilliant. However right now all I can do is point you in the right direction.
They are affiliate links, so by clicking them I get a small commission from each sale. This goes towards my time researching new garden talks, buying relevant books, going on courses to learn more and then share that knowledge through this blog or my talks, covering the cost of petrol when I travel long distances to visit garden clubs.
Those of you who have booked me will know I travel anywhere in the UK. And that often I charge very little for travel, to make sure it is good value for your club and that you can keep affording to book speakers, to continue to come together as a gardening community in your village or town every month and talk gardening.
I think these things are important – community, a love for plants, sharing knowledge.
Which is why I would be ever so grateful if you would support this blog with a small commission. Just follow the links below if you see something you like, make the purchase and enjoy the product. We do not stock them on Modern Mint, as I said above, because of space and a lack of time to provide the best possible service I can.
But I do believe in the products below. I love their quality and I know you will get something from them too.
So happy shopping! Thank you so much for your support!
What I Love
100% Renewable Energy Supplier
We use Bulb to provide our energy at home and in the office. It is cheaper than the big 6, completely green, takes just 2 minutes to switch and is no hassle at all.
They even pay any exit fees you might get from your current supplier.
But best yet? They give you and me £50 each if you sign up from here.
Go all green energy and sign up today for your bonus. Simple, but effective.
I prefer to clip by hand, rather than machine. I use the Okatsune red and white handle shears day in, day out, in the garden. You can find these on Modern Mint!
But sometimes it is absolutely necessary to use a hedge trimmer. I love the Stihl products. I find them well-balanced, long-lasting and immensely good value.
And robust? Yes. I have bashed them around in lots of gardens. They are definitely robust. (Please note – I don’t recommend you bash them around.)
This short-handled hedge trimmer is my go to for everyday use. It can be used all day because it is light enough to carry, yet it has enough guts to get the job done. For what you pay, you will get your money’s worth.
If you really do need a hedge trimmer instead of shears, try this one.
(Top Tip: they may try to offer you ‘Resin Solvent’ to buy with this product. Don’t bother. A few drops of Camellia Oil from Modern Mint or some 3 in 1 and a wipe with an old rag will do the job just as well. Without costing much at all.)
Improve your soil. That is the ally in your gardening practise. For the best soil, you need to keep improving it with compost and additional organic matter. But you can also help it to be teeming with microbes – which improve plant health and strength – by adding them in a liquid form.
I spray clients boxwood plants during the growing season to keep them healthy. Give this a try and see how it improves plant disease resistance for you – Microbz.
The more and more I garden, the more I am aware of how important the soil is. It has felt like a massive transformation for me over the last few years, from saying things like ‘yeah, the soil is important, of course…’ but really just as lip service, to now being absolutely convinced that the soil can make such a huge difference to the health and quality of our plants.
Our soils are also a brilliant place to store carbon, so reducing our carbon footprint.
One part of a good soil is to make sure it is alive. David Austin Roses send Mycorrhizal fungi out in orders with their roses, as a way to get the plants off to a great start in their new home. If you use home made compost on everything, you may not need it.
But if you are struggling to make enough compost from your garden, or think you might need a little extra help, then this is a good thing to add to new plantings. A few different makes on the market, but start by looking at this Mycorrhiza.
Still Want A Fertiliser?
This will make you laugh. Shropshire Seaweed. (If it doesn’t make you laugh, ask a friend why Shropshire Seaweed is funny.)
We did sell it on Modern Mint, but a bottle exploded in transit over the Postman.
Not a happy postman.
These guys package it far more carefully than I ever did. It is great. Use it!
Recycled Plastic Plant Pots
We also sold these back in the day, from a company in Cornwall called Ashortwalk.
They recycle old plant pots from around the UK and give them a second life as something useful – plant labels, bird feeders, sun dials…. lots of cool stuff.
Try a bird feeder here.
Yep. I use hand cream. My hands, especially in winter, need it.
Finding a good one that soaks right in can be tough. You need pure essential oils or sea salt. For incredible value, this Dead Sea Salt moisturiser is cheap enough to use liberally, most certainly high enough quality to help your hands.
The sea salt also helps with healing any cuts. I once stabbed through my hand with one of the sharp Japanese tools I sell here at Modern Mint (I won’t go into the full story here. But you can book a garden talk and hear about it, if you are not faint of heart!) and adding this moisturiser onto the clean cut really helped heal it up in just a few days.
It may not be the flashiest hand cream, but at this moment it is my go-to. Try it for yourself.
We wrote about our new found love for gin a little while back, with recommendations galore to help you find somewhere to start.
Read about that here – The Best Gin.
Quinine, from the bark of a South American tree, is a major ingredient in making tonic water. Quinine was used to treat malaria, in a pure form that apparently tasted disgusting. So it was that Gin was added to help it ‘go down the hatch’ a little easier.
Old school medicine right there, but hence the tradition (tradition? yeah?) of having a gin and tonic together.
They go. They are good for your health. They are medicinal. So bottoms up!
Some gins are dry. Some have a purer taste. Some are floral. I prefer the more floral. Must be the gardener in me….
Or Tanqueray No10 is a good starting point.
We also visited and loved the glass house at Bombay Sapphire. They grow the botanicals for their gin on-site here. Amazing.
Then choose a garnish. Something fragrant, that isn’t already in the gin. Get creative here. Experiment. That is all part of the fun.
The Tools We Love
So there you have it! All of the extra little tools and gift ideas that we love, that we highly recommend you try, use and enjoy.
Hope you get as much from them as we do. Thank you so much too, for reading!
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 …