THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Mar24

The Alternative to Mowing

Over the weekend we saw an advert for Artificial Lawn that claimed it was the ‘only alternative to mowing!’

Let us be serious – that is no more than marketing hype, and a lie.

The first alternative to mowing that springs to our mind is… don’t mow. Really, keep it that simple, and don’t mow. Let the grass grow longer, flower and set seed… and see how the garden looks.

You might be surprised by what grows when a lawnmower is not cutting the heads off a plant every week through the growing season – orchids have even been known to make an appearance – and all that spare time you now have because you are not mowing for hours on end every weekend will mean you can study what these plants, now allowed to perform, actually are.

What happens though, when it gets to the end of summer, and you want to tidy up? It’s not a difficult question to answer, though we find it often falls on deaf ears because the answer is not what people want to hear. We suggest hiring a scythe mower for the day, to get all the work done at once. This solution is shrugged off as too much hard work (the people doing the shrugging conveniently forgetting the work saved over the previous 6 months.)

What about hiring someone with a strimmer? No.

Facetiously, we then suggest bringing in sheep. This answer also gets shrugged off (and it probably deserves it too – although we’d love to see a sheperd bringing his flock into the back garden for a few days – the neighbours perhaps wouldn’t.)

You could always dig up and start your lawn again, this time sowing a grass seed that either grows slowly or doesn’t get very tall.

Or better still, make the lawn area into a pond – there will be a huge increase in wildlife in your garden and it will also give you the same calming view to look out on as a lawn provides.

It takes a brave person to give up their lawn. But doing so really will give you more time to do something more interesting than mow. And if you hear someone say there is no alternative to a lawn, or that artificial lawn is the only alternative to grass – send them to us – we don’t mind telling them straight.

(Yep, someone really wrote this book…)

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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