THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Jul09

The Perfect Garden

The perfect garden (or even worse, the perfect lawn!) is almost a badge of honour, something to be achieved and then shown off like a trophy on the mantelpiece. This search for perfection happens often in our lives – we seek the perfect word, the perfect skin, the perfect cup of tea.

But the perfect garden is surely unachievable, if by perfect we mean ‘nothing out of place.’ Flawless. There will surely always be a corner that you haven’t had time to ‘tidy’ or ‘clean’… unless resources are seemingly unlimited…

But what this does (beautiful as the space is) is move itself further away from perfection by trying too hard… the mind, the eye, the thought process becomes accustomed to this level of ‘flawlessness’ and then seeks it constantly, competing almost to capture what lurks beyond the nth degree… (and good luck getting there…)

“Who has not asked himself at some time or other: am I a monster or is this what it means to be a person?”

Brazilian author Clarice Lispector

If the perfect (flawless, nothing out of place) garden is unachievable, what then do we aim for?

How about curiousinteresting… something with a little texture

By all means set high standards. Strive to achieve them. But perfection is about more than control – the perfect garden is one where simple things are done well, you don’t have to make excuses or claim ‘you should have it seen it last week…’ and the plants grow well and can be enjoyed…

“Don’t forget, that this is the season for strawberries. Yes.”

Clarice Lispector (who obviously knew what made the perfect garden.)

(For a few more ideas on the perfect garden, check out these books – the first is the designer Fernando Caruncho…)

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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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