THE MODERN MINT BLOG
Sarah Raven is a garden writer and teacher, probably best known for the cut flower courses she runs in Kent… at least, that is where we first heard of her.
Having always had an interest in cut flowers, we began a sideline business growing seasonal flowers for florists when we were based in Hampshire. Our first port of call was to visit Sarah Raven on one of her cut flower growing courses and get her book The Cutting Garden: Growing and Arranging Garden Flowers for advice.
We were also given her beautiful cookbook as a present one Christmas. It, along with a book by Skye Gyngell (A Year in my Kitchen) have stayed on the shelf in the kitchen for easy reference when a tasty meal of fresh produce is needed.
Sarah’s cookbook is a beautiful treat to sit down with in winter, each vegetable being given a chapter depending on when it is in season. This also makes it an excellent beginners guide as well for those who want to learn how to prepare food they may never have come across before. This is probably the key to Sarah’s work – that she is a teacher, a go-to if you have a question, because everything is shared.
We are cooking from her book tonight – currently in the oven is baked aubergine with mozzarella – an autumn evening warmer and needed after gardening in the cold today!
Another favourite recipe? Celeriac and apple soup. Really. It’s a winter stunner.
Sarah Raven has also written about Sissinghurst. Earlier this year we visited Sissinghurst on a cold spring morning. You can read about that trip (we arrived at 6am for a wander around the white garden!) and see some pictures on this blog post – NGS Sissinghurst.
You will find mention of Sarah all through blog posts on our website – she has given us a model to base the Modern Mint blog on – one of sharing information and encouraging others to give gardening a go, whether they are growing cut flowers, harvesting fruit, sowing vegetables or preparing a meadow. We want Modern Mint to be this kind of gardening resource, to be a check-in point for you to get the confidence and courage to go outside and start (or build on) your relationship with your garden.
So do check out her website for great planting ideas – there is always a deal to be found and plenty of advice too – highly recommended! And if you want to know something about cut flowers… Sarah Raven is a good place to start.
Making a new topiary out of the large, dull facade of a Taxus blob… My work was to change it up from a ‘jelly drop’ shape and give it texture, open it out and let the light through, and make it a sculptural feature in the background of the garden in summer… yet a major part of the garden in winter. A few more years before it becomes something special, but there was far more leaf and growth inside the plant than I thought and so it will not take too long for it to gain in character and become …
Two weeks ago I was invited to teach topiary at the garden of Griselda Kerr, the author of The Apprehensive Gardener. I love teaching and sharing skills, but I was placed on the spot in the afternoon and asked to show how I would make a new topiary from an existing shrub. So below is a speeded-up video of me creating a cloud-pruned topiary from an old boxwood tree. I particularly love the ending when the class get involved….! See the video here. One hour was all it took, and though it needed a little tidying-up, it was made by …
Charlotte Molesworth, my topiary mentor, and I are running our popular topiary workshop again in 2022. You can email me for details – or go here for information, your ticket and to find out about dates. Book A Spot On A Topiary Workshop, September 2022