THE MODERN MINT BLOG
In Gardens Illustrated magazine a few issues back, they had an interview with Midori Shintani, the Head Gardener of Tokachi Millenium Forest. (You can find photos of the work done by designer Dan Pearson in the Millenium Forest here, at his website.)
She told the story of how she came to be there with great eloquence. She had learned the tea ceremony, ikebana and calligraphy before studying horticulture – “I enjoyed the course, but I still did not know what I should become… for 11 years I struggled to choose my path.”
This is the case with a lot of people, and sometimes trying to second guess what you want to be becomes a ridiculous merry-go-round that is hard to get off from. We look at our own path from labourer to playwright to stand-up comedian to gardener and… well, who would have guessed life would take us in such a direction? And who is to know where it goes next?
A lot of the places Midori Shintani worked had creative undertones (a design office, an art gallery) and you see this a lot in people who eventually end up gardening – it is work that allows for independent thought, so offers that crucial edge, that free-form outlet for your dreams and passions that other vocations may not.
After time in Sweden working at a garden she arrived back to Japan and had to train intensively – “I was in my 30’s so I needed to get the experience more quickly.”
She then ended up working at the Millenium Forest, as head gardener. Dan Pearson speaks highly of her, as a perfect fit for the garden. She herself seems to believe she has finally come home – “This really is the place where I can fully be myself.”
But the moment we loved most from the interview was what she said about how the garden is managed.
“This garden is a bridge between humans and nature. We use minimum tools, minimum management, but maximum vision. We have a mission to introduce a new garden movement. The potential is exciting.”
We highlighted the words that struck us so hard – we use minimum tools, minimum management. This is a beautiful thought, and if acted out well it is a philosophy of gardening that suits modern life – a sensitive hand to deal with nature, as little fuss as possible over what you use to do it.
We hope Midori Shintani will speak more about her way of gardening in the future. It is a way we feel a strong urge to follow.
I love working with Trees For Life , a charity in Scotland who plants trees. So far Modern Mint has planted 195 trees – including pines, rowans and oaks – to do as much as we can to make the business as green as possible. You can help too – just visit the Modern Mint Grove at Trees For Life and for £6 per tree you can get some planted. I’m writing this today because of a report I saw on the BBC this morning about Tottenham being top of the sustainability table. Spurs top of the table huh? Something …
Here is an updated list of books for keen gardeners. I have enjoyed these books immensely, they range from designers and how they work to helping wildlife to thrive. And by buying from here you are helping local or independent bookshops to survive too. Here is the list – go take a look and nab something to read now!
I compiled a list of books using Bookshop, a new online shop to rival Amazon. I like it because it is supporting independent bookshops, helping them out by giving them an audience whilst their own physical premises are closed. The books I’ve listed are not all about gardening, but worth a look through and an order anyway as they are wonderful and have seen me through lockdown – and I hope they bring you some joy too! Check out the books I recommend here.