THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Aug23

(Fifty) Shades of Green

Shades of Green is a book by Paul Waddington, giving you some common sense advice on how to live more sustainably.

It is well put together and gently teaches you how broad the spectrum of green living is. From starting the book with ‘don’t fly’ (brave way to split your readers on page one!) to sharing ways on how to live without a fridge (how did people stop their food spoiling before refrigeration?) we list below some of the ideas, both dark green and lighter green, we liked the most from his book. Do check it out – Shades Of Green: A (mostly) practical A-Z for the reluctant environmentalist – it’s a good one for starting you thinking…

Shades of Green

No flying.

Homegrown food and flowers (including raw milk, no meat (or at least have rare breed if you do), local, artisan bread, cheese, fairtrade, organic dark chocolate, eggs from your own chickens and ale hand pulled from a cask… to be honest, when food is spoken about in such gloriously delicious terms, you wonder why we accept anything less from the supermarkets?)

No babies.

Shorter showers, smaller bath (apparently there are baths shaped like a peanut that should force you to use less water…)

Second hand bikes.

Darker clothes as whites require more energy to get them crisp and white. Probably best to go for wool, cotton, silk… animal? Handwash them.

No cod. Wild fish, sustainably caught.

Shade grown organic coffee. Or you could try dandelion root…

Induction hob instead of an electric oven.

Laptop? Or just go without completely?

Generate your own electricity.

No fridge – a zeer pot, pantry, larder or root cellar.

Use a wood-framed conservatory leaning against your house – better than a polytunnel!

Look again at your furniture and your homes. Is there some retro-fitting you can do? Can you use or buy less?

Let your lawns become meadows.

Use LED lights. We hear THIS IS THE FUTURE from people in the know. So check them out…

Have a wind up radio.

Then came more food ideas (it is amazing just how far wrong our diets have gone…) like using extra virgin olive oil, organic sunflower oil, organic dried pasta, home-grown strawberries and tomatoes (ripened by the sun…) use local staple foods (so for us in the UK – wheat? oats? barley?) honey instead of sugar and, if you must have sugar, make it organic, dark, unrefined sugar… and of course you should drink a cup of loose leaf tea.

Don’t keep cats and dogs – if you want pets, try bees and carp.

If you go on holiday – backpack or camp.

Put a pond in the garden.

Make your shoes of leather. Or hemp, with a rubber soul from a recycled car tyre.

No TV. You have a laptop anyway, right?

Soap. Washing powder. Jewellery. Make-up. Think about all of these now…

Telephone – we would love to be without one.

Target your water use – do you harvest rainwater? Flush too often? Could you have a compost toilet?

Take the train, or go sailing.

Use a triple AAA rated dishwasher – apparently it really is better than washing up by hand!

Make your own wine, or drink locally made.

The two items Paul Waddington talks about in Shades of Green that seem to be the biggest places we can cut back on our energy use are cars and houses. Financially, these are also the items that cost us the most.

Perhaps it is time we started sharing them?

To see what else he has written, click this link – Books by Paul Waddington – there are a few more than interesting titles for you there.

Last of all then – what shade of green are you?

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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