THE MODERN MINT BLOG

May13

Woodpeckers, Essex, NGS

We visited the 1 1/2 acre garden Woodpeckers at Burnham on Crouch over the last bank holiday weekend. It felt like a bigger garden than this, split as it was into different spaces each with their own atmosphere.

P.molly

What we liked most was that each space was clearly defined. It takes a brave owner to do that,to take the plunge and not dilute the quality each space in the garden has been asked to provide.

The meadows in the orchard were beautiful at this time of year…

Meadow Orchard, Woodpeckers

… at least we thought so. We overheard one visitor say, “it’s all just managed weeds,” as they turned away and headed towards the vegetable garden. It’s an old-fashioned way of judging plants – good and bad, wanted and unwanted, plants and weeds – they are all plants, all the same, and have their own uses and their own beauty. But you can’t please everyone.

(Just to be clear – meadows are not about ‘managing weeds’ or having a ‘can’t be bothered mowing’ attitude to the garden work – they are about creating a particular set of conditions, managing them in a similar way, and then allowing the plants that suit those conditions to flourish. You will also get more flowering events per square metre than in many traditional herbaceous borders. What is not to like about that?)

 

Flower Free Zone
Flower Free Zone

The pool was a flower free zone. It surprised us when we walked in, but the absolute lack of flowers suggested it must be a deliberate choice. Linda explained, “I wanted one place in the garden where I could sit and read my book without getting distracted. If there were flowers here, I would always be looking up and seeing something else that needs to be done.”

Many of us could relate to that… and what is more, the walls that enclose the pool garden are beautiful in themselves, and so worth allowing them to take centre stage.

Linda has a genuine love for the exuberance of the cottage garden, and this lends a more relaxed spirit to the garden. Plants can self-seed, borders are full and the odd flowering treasure can be found if you keep your eyes open… a Mathiasella appeared before us on one corner.

The gardens we have visited so far for the NGS in Essex have been of an exceptionally high standard. What is most impressive is the attitude each of these women take to their gardens – they are bold in what they set out to achieve and make conscious choices about how they do it. We encourage that in anyone who is keen to garden – go for it, make something brilliant!

Woodpeckers will be open again in June, please do see the NGS for dates and times.

Recommended Reading:

Yellow Book 2014, The: The National Gardens Scheme

Cottage Garden Flowers

Life in a Cottage Garden

Or for a selection of our favourite books… The Modern Mint Book Store

Jan12

A Topiary Calendar – When To Prune

Below are a few pointers on when you need to think about your topiary and hedges this year, so you can make sure you clip at the best time and not waste any effort doing work you don’t need to do… January & February Roses, fruit trees and wisteria is where the focus lies. Yes, it is cold and the work can be unpleasant because you are often stood on a ladder with your secateurs, barely moving enough to warm the body, but get these jobs done well, with care, and you can enjoy the fruits and flowers of your …

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Jan11

The English Garden Magazine – On Our Topiary Workshop

Last September when I and topiary artist (and mentor) Charlotte Molesworth ran a weekend of topiary masterclasses we had a visit from the garden writer Non Morris. You can read more about Non and her garden design work and writings here. She has written a lovely article for the February 2022 edition of The English Garden Magazine about her afternoon working with us and learning about topiary – I’m really thrilled by the piece, because she mentions not just a little of the wonderful history of Balmoral Cottage and how the garden grew, but also shares a little of how …

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Nov17

Topiary Provocation Autumn 2021

This Autumn I have presented another ‘Topiary Provocation’ to keen gardeners and designers. If you want to know more about topiary, the report on what we discussed and where modern topiary is going can be read by clicking the link below: Topiary Provocation Report Autumn 2021 This report is free to post on your own website or blog, just credit Modern Mint, and don’t change anything within it. Alternatively you can just share it with keen friends… or enemies?