THE MODERN MINT BLOG
During lockdown I went through a number of old notebooks.
I found a note about Gilles Clement and The Garden In Motion – Le Jardin En Mouvement.
Underneath my note I had written:
“To be researched more! Something to definitely think over!”
Now, five years later I have looked again… and am thrilled by this idea. The Garden In Motion is about taking a piece of unused land, and then as the gardener you make choices to do ‘as much as possible for the land and as little as possible against’ it.
You are talking about limited input – watering, tools, fertiliser – whilst increasing the quality of the air, the water and the land.
I have often been heard to bang on about ‘observe’, ‘pay attention’ and ‘look closely’ when talking about gardening. But these are quite meaningless really. I am sure people nod their heads and go yes, but it is a skill that needs learning, that needs practising.
And I can barely do it myself, for all those grand words!
But it is this ability, this state of mind, that allows you to garden well – by standing back, seeing what is happening and evolving in the garden, naturally, then allowing the garden to flourish as it wants. Allowing it to ‘move’ as it wants.
You become the caretaker – a Care-Taker – of the land.
I found The Garden In Motion an inspiring idea, perhaps more because it begins to put into words the way I feel about gardening, about how much you control and how much you allow things to be… which does sound weird coming from someone who makes topiary – the hard pruning of shrubs being very much about control!
But not all topiary is like this.
Truly some is about pruning in a way that improves a shrub, but so you would never think it had been touched at all…
Look how much leaf has come off, to allow light through to the bed and to keep the boxwood in place… yet the plant looks relaxed, like it is shrugging its shoulders.
As ever, this blog explores ideas I am thinking about, but not always in the sharpest or best way. It is more a notebook of where I am at, and heading. Keep coming back and you might find I can express myself better and in a more useful way to you.
Or take a look at some other topiary work I’ve been doing for clients recently…
Guanock House needs a trainee topiary artist! Some of you may know it as the first home and garden of designer Arne Maynard, but is now owned and maintained by Michael Coleman and his wife Michelle. They offer meditation workshops and retreats there and it is as beautiful a house and garden as you could wish to visit. They called me in last Autumn to help shape up some of the topiary as it was all getting out of hand, but what it really needs is someone with a steady hand and lots of patience to take over the clipping …
Here are some photos of work I have been doing at the garden of Charlotte Molesworth in Kent. Snow and ice brings out the depth of the different planes and angles carved into the boxwood. A garden has to look beautiful in winter – and topiary (green architecture) helps do that! For more topiary pictures, click here.
How To Use Topiary In The Garden is my new talk, which I first gave last year via Zoom for the European Boxwood And Topiary Society. Returning to Zoom again, there are two dates available to see and hear the talk: March 16th – Book your ticket here April 6th – Book your ticket here The talk is great fun, perfect for keen gardeners or people who want to know how to improve their garden with hedges and architectural plants. How To Use Topiary In The Garden looks at how to move away from the idea topiary is twee or old-fashioned, …