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.
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 …
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 …
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 …