THE MODERN MINT BLOG
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.
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…
… 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?)
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.
Or for a selection of our favourite books… The Modern Mint Book Store
Brought By Bike is an excellent website I found last month, where businesses offer their services by (of course) bicycle. Modern Mint and my topiary work is now live on the site offering my topiary services, via bike, to the following two postcodes – CM1 CM2 Now I can imagine I will need to borrow a ladder should anyone have a larger shrub, but most town gardens in the Chelmsford area have a need not just for privacy but to let light into the house… so a balance must be struck when shaping hedges and shrubs to cover both needs. …
Transforming Topiary – a video made for the European Boxwood And Topiary Society by Charlotte Molesworth and I, in her garden. We take a dog topiary and work out how to update it, turning it into a bird. Worth a watch I think, and hopefully useful to you! You can see more of my clipping on the topiary page. Or read my Spring 2021 Topiary Provocation here.
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 …