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’

(Some of these plants can be found in the seedball mixtures on the Modern Mint Shop – do check them out!)

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!

 

 

 

 

Jun28

Make Your Own Microbes

We are fans of effective microbes, and use the in our topiary work. They help keep plants healthy, meaning the plants have more tools in their toolbox and energy in their lives to stave off any diseases. Here is a lovely article that tells you how to make your own microbes. Right at the end. Make Your Own Microbes

Jun15

Boxwood – Dealing With Blight & The Caterpillar

Boxwood is one of our absolute favourite plants. The evergreen leaf that shines in winter, the smell as you clip it, the brilliant shapes you can make from it… but it is suffering somewhat from two major problems: Box Blight Boxwood Caterpillar and Moth None of this is the be all and end all for boxwood, but it helps to be aware of it and know a little about what you can do should either of these problems arise. Boxwood Caterpillar & Moth I hadn’t seen this in a garden I worked on until this spring, when a client I …

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Jun06

Orchard Design At Brogdale, National Fruit Collection In Kent

Last weekend I visited the National Fruit Collection at Brogdale, to take part in an orchard design course they were running. Beautiful place and a warm day, I recommend a visit. I came home with 3 bottles of cider. Drank them all. Then realised they were weighing in at 8%. I don’t recover that quickly (no longer being 20 years old) and so had something of a musty head the next morning. The power of apples I say! Below are some notes I made from the day. They may be of use to you, although really they are there for …

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