THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Jul10

Verbena Bonariensis

Verbena Bonariensis

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…)

Mar19

Wasting Water

Well worth a read in the BBC today – a note on how wasting water in the UK “as socially unacceptable as blowing smoke in the face of a baby.” Read the report here. I have written a talk about how we use water in the  garden. It was written when I moved from Hampshire to Essex and found out for myself just how dry this area of the UK is. It completely changed the way I garden. The lack of such a precious resource as water made me question what we can do to save it, store it and …

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Mar14

The Foie Gras That Tastes Like Nature

Ethical Foie Gras? Is That A Real Thing?   Foie gras – can it be ‘grown’ ethically? The video showing how this farmer works suggests it can… We first read about this in a book called The Third Plate by Dan Barber. I loved it and I love how Eduardo the farmer, who farms on the Dehesa in Spain, has a ‘take half leave half rule’. When talking about how the geese eat his olives… “They’re always quite fair. If you make sure the geese are relaxed and happy, you’ll be rewarded with the gift of fatty livers. That is God’s …

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Mar04

Hardy Orchids Via James Wong

Hardy orchids – here is a subject I would love to know more about – so lo and behold, James Wong has written about it in the Guardian! Read the article about hardy orchids here. I love having orchids in the house, just your usual run of the mill buy them in any shop orchids, but it is a pleasure to read about the plants that will grow outside and cope with this weather. (This insane weather! From the hottest days of February on record to Storm Freya, all within a week. Weather is always such a factor in gardening, but …

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