THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Feb26

Modern Garden Design

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…

Mar19

Wasting Water

Well worth a read in the BBC today – a note on how wasting water in the UK “as socially unacceptable as blowing smoke in the face of a baby.” Read the report here. I have written a talk about how we use water in the  garden. It was written when I moved from Hampshire to Essex and found out for myself just how dry this area of the UK is. It completely changed the way I garden. The lack of such a precious resource as water made me question what we can do to save it, store it and …

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Mar14

The Foie Gras That Tastes Like Nature

Ethical Foie Gras? Is That A Real Thing?   Foie gras – can it be ‘grown’ ethically? The video showing how this farmer works suggests it can… We first read about this in a book called The Third Plate by Dan Barber. I loved it and I love how Eduardo the farmer, who farms on the Dehesa in Spain, has a ‘take half leave half rule’. When talking about how the geese eat his olives… “They’re always quite fair. If you make sure the geese are relaxed and happy, you’ll be rewarded with the gift of fatty livers. That is God’s …

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Mar04

Hardy Orchids Via James Wong

Hardy orchids – here is a subject I would love to know more about – so lo and behold, James Wong has written about it in the Guardian! Read the article about hardy orchids here. I love having orchids in the house, just your usual run of the mill buy them in any shop orchids, but it is a pleasure to read about the plants that will grow outside and cope with this weather. (This insane weather! From the hottest days of February on record to Storm Freya, all within a week. Weather is always such a factor in gardening, but …

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