THE MODERN MINT BLOG
This post on organic gardening started with us chatting to a vegan. He was suggesting that the moment you mentioned to people you were vegan, they labelled you, judged you on the kind of person you are and the problems you would cause them if they invited you to dinner.
We feel the same happens when you mention to people you are an organic gardener, or you work your garden on organic principles.
They seem to lean away from you, as if you are dirty, and most definitely untidy (who could allow weeds in their garden? And it is no excuse just to grin and call them ‘wildflowers!’) They seem to turn away from you, as if you are about to spit an argument about not using pesticides right into their faces. They breathe in sharply, readying themselves to tell you why they spray a herbicide (to ease maintenance, to annihalate the roots of the plants they don’t want… and because organic gardening ‘just doesn’t work’…)
If they are an organic gardener mind, they will smile and laugh and clap you on the back as if you are their oldest friend, just returned from 6 months at sea. It is a lovely thing, to know you are part of the gang.
But still, that tense moment when you tell someone you garden organically, you have to be ready for it, because you just don’t know which way they will respond. This is a problem, this judgement, all because of the word organic.
What about just calling it gardening?
As with our vegan friend, who feels put into a box the moment he suggests he lives a life without animal products, we would love to see a change in attitude from the one side who garden with chemicals, and the other side who garden without. Instead of creating these tribes, affiliating ourselves with those who believe in what we believe, how about we strive to just see each other as an important (yet small) part of the natural world – its custodians?
Three cheers to the day then, when organic gardening is called gardening (just like it used to be called, before anyone had ever heard of something like weedkiller!)
Three cheers to the day when a vegan diet is called eating food.
And three cheers to anyone who gets out into their garden, rolls up their sleeves, and gets stuck into growing plants as well as they possibly can. And we, us organic gardeners, might just find that the more people garden the less chemicals they will use – after all, it happened to us, didn’t it?
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. …
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.
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 …