THE MODERN MINT BLOG

May14

Ryoan-ji

Modern Mint director Darren Lerigo at Ryoan-ji, Kyoto
Modern Mint director Darren Lerigo at Ryoan-ji, Kyoto

Last November the Modern Mint team went to view the gardens of Japan (and eat sushi, in vast quantities.)

This picture, at the famous Zen garden of Ryoan-ji, was taken at 7.50am on a Monday morning. Hence the privacy. There are 15 stones in the garden, but only 14 can be viewed at any one time from the platform. It is said that if you gain enlightenment the fifteenth stone will be revealed to you. We didn’t find enlightenment, but we did have to get up early, take three buses and then knock on the temple door asking to be allowed in in order to get any time alone to view the garden.

How long did we get before the masses (schoolchildren/tourists) arrived? How long did we get to spend, the only people in the world at that particular moment on that particular rainy Monday morning at the temple garden of Ryoan-ji? We got to soak in its wonderful atmosphere, completely undisturbed, for a whole eight minutes.

It was absolutely worth it.

Recommended Reading:

Around The World In 80 Gardens

Japanese Zen Gardens

Japanese Gardens: Tranquility, Simplicity, Harmony

The Gardens of Japan

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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