THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Dec04

Do I Really Hate Lawns?

Lawns? Huh! Yea….

What is it good for?

Absolutely nothing!

Ok, that is not quite right. I’ve just bastardised the song ‘War’ by Edwin Starr. Forgive me that, Edwin.

But I seem to be gaining a reputation as a hater of the lawn, a disliker of the green green grass (of home). This is not strictly true. And here is my defence.

  1. In my garden talks I often suggest the lawn is worth reducing, or even removing completely. This is because I have cut so many lawns in my life that I really can’t be bothered cutting them anymore. They break my back bending down to lift off the bag.
  2. They fill up the compost heap with too much nitrogen, far too quickly in the summer.
  3. They get given too much artificial fertiliser by (franchised) lawn care specialists and often get sprayed with weedkiller to remove broad-leafed weeds. Not my thing.
  4. The grass, in hot weather, is liable to die. Just like many lawns did this summer. Some tough perennials, established in good soil, can replace the yellowing lawn and provide forage for bees. Much better option.

But it was pointed out to me that lawns can do lots of good.

  1. You don’t dig lawns, so the soil below the grass becomes a carbon sink.
  2. They give you a place to sit on the grass.
  3. They set off the herbaceous border beautifully, one complementing and improving the other if well tended.

Yep. I get all of that. They are genuinely good points.

So when I give my garden talks, I try to be a little provocative. Get people thinking about what they could do differently. It makes the talk more interesting, for a start. But it also helps inspire people to feel something. Passion for gardening, inspiring people to see how precious their garden space is, is the key to making our gardens and our landscape a more thrilling place to live. I am happy to be a little provocative, to hopefully get people improving the garden they have and enhancing life.

That is why I simplify my views and say this…

Remove your lawns!

But do I really hate lawns? No, of course not. The answer is all of the things above, in the two lists, but also much more nuanced.

What I really hate is a lawn that is bowling green perfect. Or that looks something like this…

perfect lawns

It speaks of lots of work, lots of chemicals (or at least, of not being allowed to go on it) and of not providing for wildlife. To me, it feels like a dead space, too controlled by the human hand. Yuck.

What I prefer is something like this…

daisy lawns

Full of daisies and clover. Dandelions? Don’t mind if I do, thank you. This is the lawn I like, one that has been used and yet looks green enough. One that gives food to wildlife. One that can survive when the weather gets warm.

It will not be a lawn for the enthusiast.

But lawns are not meant for one person, to show off their skill (and likely their well-stocked financial resources to keep it looking like this) in making it ‘green’ and ‘perfect’. Lawns are a habitat for everything in the garden, from pets to people to the bees that need some food.

So I do not hate lawns. I hate bowling green perfect lawns.

Because what are they good for?

Absolutely nothing!

(Except bowling….)

May03

Selection Of Topiary Videos To Help You Clip

Over the last two years I have been involved with a couple of projects that have ended up being recorded, then placed on Youtube or Instagram. I’m hoping they will be useful to you, so I have decided this morning to pop them together in one handy blog post so that you can bookmark the page and revisit when you need some inspiration for your topiary. See below then, a few videos about topiary I have recently been involved with… Garden Masterclass – Provocations of a Modern Topiarist Transforming Topiary Topiary Teacher Put On The Spot https://www.instagram.com/p/CTj-EfOKRL6/ In the above …

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May03

Mark Zlotsky – Topiary Tango In New York

Mark Zlotsky is an artist based in New York, and today I just wanted to share his project ‘Topiary Tango’. In his introduction to the project he talks of topiary being a forgiving art, which I love and is soooooo true…..! For proof, just take a look at some projects I have made with a sharp pair of shears, a hedgetrimmer and a pruning saw. Do check out Mark Zlotsky’s project, because although his interest began by looking at topiary through the prism of architecture and the relationship of one building to another, he touches directly onto a way of …

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Apr27

Gardenista Interview – I Talk About Modern Topiary

Gardenista, the online magazine about gardens and design, have interviewed me about topiary. The article is called ‘Rethinking Topiary: A Garden Tradition Loosened Up’ and was published this morning. Written by the excellent garden writer Clare Coulson, I share some thoughts on using deciduous plants, how to clip (name-dropping Anne Lamott and her book on writing at one stage… oh, how I wander off subject sometimes!) and how to improve topiary by what you plant around it. Do take a look at the article in Gardenista. Or for more about my topiary work, check out the topiary page.