THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Aug09

Taking Cuttings – Marina Christopher

If you want more of a particular plant then a cheap way to get them is by taking cuttings.

And the best way for us to show you is by offering you this short video nurserywoman Marina Christopher made.

The video is fun – we have always loved watching nurserywomen and men performing their craft, seeing these well-honed movements and agile fingers practising what they have done in all likelihood thousands of times. The dexterity is amazing, the confidence with which they manipulate the plant material showing just how close a relationship they have with plants.

Marina runs Phoenix Perennial Plants in Alton, Hampshire, and her special interest is in growing plants that are beneficial to pollinators (not just bees…) You can email her for a catalogue using this address: marina@phoenixperennialplants.co.uk or phoning on 01420 560695

You should also be able to find more information about talks and workshops she is giving by visiting the Alitex website, for whom she writes an interesting if sporadic blog. (If you wonder why it might be sporadic, we imagine it is due to the travails of being a nurserywoman – the plants don’t grow themselves, after all – and she doesn’t just grow for you, she also provides designers with plants at the Chelsea Flower Show too!)

If you are reading about a plant and the writer mentions they got it from Phoenix Perennial, or it was recommended to them by Marina Christopher, you would be wise to try out the plant – many in the industry consider her a great judge of a worthy garden plant.

“Plant breeding to produce larger, often sterile blooms and double flowers usually reduces pollen and nectar production. The naturalistic movement tends towards plants that still have most of the characters of wild species and are buzzing with pollinating insects and other beneficials.”

One of her favourtie plants is Sanguisorba. She talks about them in her exceptionally useful book ‘Late Summer Flowers’ and also in this interview at the Telegraph… in the interview, she hopes that a long flowering Korean species she herself discovered will become popular. Sanguisorba really isn’t used enough in gardens (though Dan Pearson mentioned them in his must-have perennials) – but here is, according to Marina, why they should be more popular –

“They’re easy to grow, don’t need staking and they attract bees, flies and butterflies.”

Simple explanation – but why make gardening harder than it needs to be?

She also provides advice on slug control…

“Ornamental grasses… play an important role in the health of our gardens. Violet ground beetles, which are voracious predators of slugs and caterpillars reside in mounds of grass and are nocturnal feeders. Ornamental grass clumps are ideal for housing these useful beetles.”

We will now be planting Deschampsia cespitosa next to hostas in our garden designs.

Here are twelve more plants she suggests for attracting pollinators, from an article in Gardens Illustrated:

Agastache ‘Blackadder’

Aster ‘Little Carlow’

Cenolophium denudatum

Centaurea ‘Phoenix Bronze’

Centranthus lecoqii

Echium vulgare

Eryngium bourgatii

Ligusticum lucidum

Linaria purpurea

Phacelia tanacetifolia

Trifolium rubens ‘Peach Pink’

Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Lavendelturm’

To buy Marina’s book Late Summer Flowers just click on the picture below, which will take you to Amazon – where you should be able to pick it up at a discount!

 

 

 

 

Sep29

New Topiary In South London Out Of Yew

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 …

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Sep27

Topiary Teacher – Put on The Spot!

topiary teacher

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 …

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Sep27

Book Yourself A Topiary Workshop 2022

organic topiary snow

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