THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Nov04

Plants for Seaside Gardens

Seaside gardens are fascinating and here at Modern Mint Garden Design we cannot wait for our first commission to work on a garden by the sea.

In preparation for that moment we are trying to learn all we can about the plants that can cope with living by the seaside. Below is a document Plantlife have put together that gives great information and pictures on seaside wildflowers – easy to print off and take with you while walking along the coast too!

seaside plants

We recently visited the West coast of Ireland to take a look at the landscape there – we saw sea holly growing wild on the most beautiful (and deserted) sandy beaches. We got soaked by rain that would lash down for ten minutes and then be gone, saw vivid rainbows that appeared so solid you could reach out and touch them, felt the wind barging past us like a handbag thief running away from a victim. It was a beautiful landscape – probably the highlight was getting up early one morning, in darkness, and going outside to meet the sunrise… and seeing a man run his two wolfhounds across a mist-veiled field. An image that will live a long time in the memory.

Another good resource for seaside gardening is this video – not so much for information but for inspiration – about the seaside garden of the Chilean garden designer Juan Grimm.

“There are certainly no showy displays of flowers, and no neatly defined borders, just an infinitely sophisticated use of local plants…”

Watch from 50 minutes onwards, and note how the plants suit the sunshine and the sea.

The quote we like best from this short part of the video is when Juan Grimm says…

“The landscape says to you what you have to do.”

It is an antithesis to ‘Capability’ Brown, or those who deem weedkillers to be an essential part of the armoury for controlling nature – instead you are teasing out what the site tells you to do, what it wants to be. It is also a remarkably fashionable concept in contemporary garden design. How long this lasts before fashions change and we come back full circle again…

Last of all our favourite books about gardens near the ocean are these – the classic by Derek Jarman:

Derek Jarman’s Garden

and this less well known by equally satifying book by Barbara Segall (satisfying because the pictures are beautiful, it discusses and shares gardens from all over the world, and it contains a useful plant appendix with growing notes for plants that can cope with salt and high winds…) – a fantastic read:

Gardens by the Sea

Enjoy your seaside gardening!

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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