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….)

Jun14

The Telegraph Wrote About My Topiary Work Yesterday

If you have a subscription, you can check out an article about bespoke ideas for your garden in the Telegraph. There are some great crafts people there, so check it out. Click Here To See The Article About my Topiary Work In The Telegraph

Jun06

Lockdown Thinking, Changes A-Coming…

Topiary Modern Mint

Lockdown has given me a chance to look through old notebooks and begin, gently, to piece together some sort of narrative about Modern Mint and how it has grown over the last six years. And it has changed massively in that time! Modern Mint Now, June Lockdown 2020 I currently make and maintain topiary all over the UK for clients who love well-pruned hedges and sculptures. I love this job – it is a beautiful art. In the winter I prune wisteria, roses and fruit trees in orchards. Much colder, shorter work days… but equally satisfying work. I give talks …

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Jun06

The Garden In Motion

During lockdown I went through a number of old notebooks. I found a note about Gilles Clement and The Garden In Motion – Le Jardin En Mouvement. Underneath my note I had written: “To be researched more! Something to definitely think over!” Now, five years later I have looked again… and am thrilled by this idea. The Garden In Motion is about taking a piece of unused land, and then as the gardener you make choices to do ‘as much as possible for the land and as little as possible against’ it. You are talking about limited input – watering, …

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