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?
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 …