THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Jul29

Scything

We at Modern Mint had a lesson in scything the other day when visiting Waltham Place.

Here are 9 things we learnt…

1) It is normal to scythe without your shoes on (it is near impossible to cut your own foot, though very easy to cut your hand when cleaning or sharpening the blade…!)

2) English scythes have curves, Austrian scythes less so, and Eastern European scythes are straight. There are also lightweight scythes from the USA made of aluminium. These seemed to divide opinion between love and hate.

3) You know you are scything well when you hear a swuuushh… swuuushh… swuuushh… it is the most beautiful sound. Not that we heard it much when we were scything…

4) Scything is on the increase, with the factory in Austria that makes them struggling to keep up with demand.

5) You should not walk on the meadow before it has been cut – the scythe is used to create a pathway into the field for you to walk on. In Austria a hay field is treated with great reverence – it is said that if the crown jewels were placed in the middle of a hay field, an Austrian would not take them because they would not step onto the uncut meadow.

Of course, if they are that keen on scything, they may cut themselves a path towards it…

5) It is 70% technique and 30% grunt.

6) A great resource for purchasing scythes is here at The Scythe Shop. And you can learn a lot about scything by going here to the website of the Scythe Association.

7) The people who we met on the scything course were people who normally use strimmers and are getting sick of them. They mush up all the grass, are heavy on the arms and back, cost money to buy and the cord takes time from your day when you have to stop and fiddle about replacing it.

8) A good scyther can mow an acre of field a day. That includes clearing it up to!

9) It is better to cut grass when it is wet – so work can start earlier in the morning than with a mower, and because it is quiet can be done later at night.

How do we think Scything make be of use?

Savings on fuel and benefits to health are the obvious ones, but we think the most important reason to embrace scything is that it is easier to store the equipment. A small London garden may have a lawn, in which case it will also need a mower and a shed to keep that mower in.

Whereas a scythe can be placed on the wall (as we wrote about in My Garden) or even kept inside. It becomes an ornamental feature, as well as a useful one. Our favourite kind of product.

We are thinking about offering a scything service for the small lawns of London – does anyone think they would be interested? Email us or tweet to let us know your thoughts about scything!


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.