THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Feb28

Notes From ‘A Very British Garden’

My new talk for 2019 ‘A Very British Garden’ has now been given to a few garden clubs in the UK. If you wish to book me for another talk, then you can find my talk subjects here – Garden Club Speaker.

A Very British Garden

Is about what I see when I work on gardens in the UK, the problems that I am consistently asked to solve – like bare fences, smelly compost, why boxwood plants are being defoliated and how come slugs are eating all the lettuce….

It has been great fun to write and I hope you will book it soon.

Below are notes for those who have heard it and wish to learn more….

The Alternative Plant List

  • Baptisia
  • Chamaenerion
  • Rose ‘Madame Alfred Carriere’
  • Jasmine ‘Clotted Cream’
  • Trachelospermum jasminoides
  • Campsis radicans
  • Carpenteria californica
  • Abeliophyllum distichum
  • Osmanthus
  • Magnolia wilsonii
  • Stewartia pseudocamellia
  • Trillium

I realise that, to those who have not seen the talk, this will sound like an odd list. In the talk, all is explained. Honest.

You can read about a few more plants that garden designer Dan Pearson recommends here.

Plant Nurseries

  • Phoenix Perennial Plants
  • Marchants Hardy Plants
  • Hards Cottage Garden Plants
  • Crug Farm
  • Great Dixter

There are loads more independent nurseries out there, sharing great garden plants. Go seek them out!

Real Seeds

Great seeds, great tasting vegetables, all to be saved and shared. Growing fantastic vegetables is a brilliant way to make a British garden something special. Use them!

Boxwood Caterpillar

Find out more here how to cope with the devastating caterpillar and moth. And check your boxwood plants this spring for the webbing! It is up to those of us who garden to be on the lookout for this caterpillar that is defoliating both gardening wild boxwood all over the UK and Europe. It has no natural predators – except the keen-eyed gardener who wants to make a difference.

So please do check your boxwood plants!

Balmoral Cottage, The Garden Of Charlotte Molesworth

My topiary mentor is opening her garden in Kent through 2019. Dates can be seen here, as well as details for how to stay in the Potting Shed in the garden.

Charles Dowding – No Dig Gardening

You can read more about Charles Dowding and his no-dig gardening technique in this blog about my visit to his garden here.

Fascinating reading, as are his books, especially – The No Dig Home & Garden.

He also uses copper tools…

Finally, Use A Green Energy Supplier

This is surely a no brainer (along with going peat free on your compost!) The simplest and easiest change you can make to help reduce your carbon footprint and keep the earth from becoming a terrible place. We use Bulb and recommend you do too. There are financial benefits for us both, as well as the moral one.

And they make it simple to switch, even paying your fees if you have any for leaving your current energy supplier early.

Check out how you (and the planet) can benefit from using Green Energy now.

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 …

READ MORE

Apr27

Kites And Strings Podcast – Topiary In The Garden

kites and strings podcast

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 …

READ MORE

Apr27

Robinia – Pruning A Beautiful Tree For Small Gardens

topiary Robinia

Robinia is often forgotten – by me, actually! – when thinking of plants for topiary. But when I work on it I do love it, brittle and soft as the wood is if you climb into it. But that danger of snapping a branch with a heavy step and falling out of the tree aside, I love it for the dappled light it allows into the garden space. Robinia Near The Sea Below is a Robinia I have gently clipped over the last few years, down near Leigh-on-Sea in Essex. The tree was large when I arrived, although it is …

READ MORE