THE MODERN MINT BLOG
Tucked away in the March issue of The Garden magazine is a lovely article by James Wong of ‘Grow Your Own Drugs’ fame.
He speaks about the Victorian gardeners (like the ones who grew pineapples for the table) and how they continuously experimented and tested new garden ideas.
“The huge irony is that the great Victorian gardeners we struggle to emulate were obsessed with innovation… characterised by an almost pathological pursuit of novelty.”
Questioning previously held truths and exploring new avenues of thought about gardens and gardening is the best thing we can do as designers/gardeners/landscapers. The most valuable card we hold as an industry is not to be static, believing we know it all, or that traditions shouldn’t be messed with because things were better and brighter in ‘the good old days’.
The greatest tribute we can pay to the past is to see the significance of this Victorian ideal and pursue the new, the bold, pick at the thread of what might be and hang around the edges of what we can’t quite grasp. Pursuing the novel may lead to dead ends and failure, but there is no wrong in that – a blunder becomes just another starting point.
A modern garden design does not have to be all steel and slabs, with few flowers… or an eco-friendly bird and bee paradise with weeds growing through the paving cracks… it should be a place that gives you what you want, while offering a chance to try what you didn’t even know it was possible to have. See the influence of Joy Larkcom on salad growing or Mark Diacono with Szechuan pepper. They are exciting, our ‘modern day’ Victorian’s’
Being open-minded to what is possible and aspiring to discover what you have learnt is the best attitude to have for the present and the future of gardening and garden design.
Look at these books by James Wong, Joy Larkcom and Mark Diacono…
I am running a topiary workshop in 2020 with the wonderful topiary artist Charlotte Molesworth at her spectacular topiary garden in Kent. This is a topiary workshop where you will learn to clip, so be prepared to do some cutting. We start with a tour of the garden, which Charlotte and her husband Donald have been cultivating for 34 years. It is organic, full of wildlife and has the most extraordinary pruned shapes made from yew and boxwood. You can see more photos of the garden in an article in the Guardian here: Topiary Garden In Kent What Else Will …
On Monday night I gave a talk to the Hardy Plant Society Middlesex. Below are a few links for further information based on some of the ideas discussed in the talk: Real Seeds – a fantastic supplier of fruit and vegetable seeds for growers. Boxwood Caterpillar Advice – from the European Boxwood & Topiary Society. I will also write a little companion piece this winter with more information and some topiary techniques, so watch out for that on this website. Boxwood Lure & Nematodes – my preferred option for dealing with the caterpillar. Discount code for 10% off is EBTSBOX29GBZ …