THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Oct03

Seedball Interview (Part Two)

Seedballs

We recently interviewed the fascinating team at Seedball and Project Maya – you can read part one of the interview here – do take some time to read what they have to tell us, and support their work by buying products like Seedballs…

Can you tell us more about the Maya reserve plot that you wish to buy by the end of 2015 please?

Yes, our aim is to buy our first UK nature reserve by the end of 2015 – not too far away! At present a number of locations have been shortlisted for our first reserve, based on our connections in those areas: Birmingham, Leeds and Sheffield. At the moment, Leeds is a front runner! The Permaculture Association are based in Leeds, and we have strong links with the Leeds Sustainability Research Institute, and a number of the Maya team have lived or studied in Leeds so know the area well. We have calculated that once land is purchased the reserve will take about three years to establish. In this time we will spend time studying and restoring the land and learning about the local culture, as well as building capacity within the area to ensure the reserve is best placed to sustain itself into the long term. For example, establish a co-operative/committee of locals who will work together with their community to determine how the land should best be set up and managed.

What inspired your interest in this work?

I met the group of people who eventually set up Project Maya in Aberdeen, while we were studying for our Doctorates. Most of us were working in the fields of conservation and sustainability to some extent, and we had a desire to do something a bit different, and see if we could find a way to have more impact on sustainability through combining our knowledge and experience. Over the years we refined the ethos and vision for Project Maya, (a lot of which is based on research we were involved in), while at the same time the group slowly worked out who would take which roles and take the company forward as its Directors.

What was it like developing Seedballs?

Developing the seed balls has been quite an adventure! We spent our first year testing different takes on the general recipe and trying out different types of wildflowers, and seeing how people responded to them as a product. For the first year we rolled each and every seed ball by hand, and although we had a blast doing it, quickly realised we would need to become experts at manufacturing seed balls as well as selling them. Early on we decided to add in a chili ingredient to help ward off seed and shoot-lovers like slugs and ants, and this has been a big hit with our customers. Through lots of trials and errors, we have refined our recipe and manufacturing approach – it’s been a very enjoyable whirlwind, and it’s been fabulous to see all the wildflowers being grown in gardens across the UK as a result of our seed balls. Your can see lots of pictures from our customers on our website gallery page, ‘Your pics‘.

How can people find out more about your latest projects?

We love chatting with people! A good place to say hello is on Twitter, @seed_ball and @projectmaya and you can find out more about Seedball and Project Maya on our websites, http://www.seedball.co.uk/ and http://www.mayaproject.org/

Thank you so much Seedball and Project Maya!

(And don’t forget, here is Part One of the interview, while here you can read more about a Project Maya influence – Permaculture.)

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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