THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Feb25

Midori Shintani, Gardener

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.

Jun10

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. …

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May10

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.

Apr28

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 …

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