THE MODERN MINT BLOG
We know we know – Verbena bonariensis is so well known, planted in so many gardens, that it has become uncool to use it these days. Its ubiquitiousness means it gets judged in harsher tones than other plants, as if its popularity has made it offensive.
This is not the Verbena’s fault. It became popular for a reason – it weaves its way around the garden but doesn’t out compete other plants, it provides height and structure, encourages wildlife, is a gorgeous purple, looks good with other plants and fits into schemes as diverse as a country meadow to urban minimalism. Who wouldn’t want a plant like that? (Possibly the people of Buenos Aires, where this Verbena was discovered and given its name ‘bonariensis’… we’ve not noticed it around the city recently. Time for a trip and take a better look? See if the Argentines are enjoying one of their own…?)
At Modern Mint we refuse to let this lack of love for the plant deter us – a heinous crime against the arbitrarial zeitgeist of good taste it currently may be, but it is a plant with wonderful qualities (for an example of how it is currently viewed, note that it didn’t make it into Dan Pearson’s list.)
The wheels will keep turning and it will come back into fashion, hopefully this time considered the great garden plant it is.
Where and how do you use it?
Plant it in full sun or part shade.
Don’t cut it down before winter, let it stand (and seed.)
It looks great alongside shrub roses, or Miscanthus…
It prefers a damper soil. Really, it does. Henk Gerritsen told us, and observations we made from our own experiments lead us to agree…
“I sometimes made deadful miscalculations. For example, I assumed that due to their lanky growth Verbena bonariensis and Verbena hastata loved aridity, but in practise I noticed that they wilted away in dry places. Only later did I read that in the wild both species grow in moist places, in South and North America respectively.”
That concludes our ode to Verbena bonariensis. We hope you dismiss the current vogue of not using Verbena, and enjoy it as the brilliant garden plant it is.
(And click on the link below to take you to the wonderful Henk Gerritsen book we quoted from above…)
Over the last two years I have been involved with a couple of projects that have ended up being recorded, then placed on Youtube or Instagram. I’m hoping they will be useful to you, so I have decided this morning to pop them together in one handy blog post so that you can bookmark the page and revisit when you need some inspiration for your topiary. See below then, a few videos about topiary I have recently been involved with… Garden Masterclass – Provocations of a Modern Topiarist Transforming Topiary Topiary Teacher Put On The Spot https://www.instagram.com/p/CTj-EfOKRL6/ In the above …
Mark Zlotsky is an artist based in New York, and today I just wanted to share his project ‘Topiary Tango’. In his introduction to the project he talks of topiary being a forgiving art, which I love and is soooooo true…..! For proof, just take a look at some projects I have made with a sharp pair of shears, a hedgetrimmer and a pruning saw. Do check out Mark Zlotsky’s project, because although his interest began by looking at topiary through the prism of architecture and the relationship of one building to another, he touches directly onto a way of …
Gardenista, the online magazine about gardens and design, have interviewed me about topiary. The article is called ‘Rethinking Topiary: A Garden Tradition Loosened Up’ and was published this morning. Written by the excellent garden writer Clare Coulson, I share some thoughts on using deciduous plants, how to clip (name-dropping Anne Lamott and her book on writing at one stage… oh, how I wander off subject sometimes!) and how to improve topiary by what you plant around it. Do take a look at the article in Gardenista. Or for more about my topiary work, check out the topiary page.