A monthly membership celebrating seasonally inspired things to Make, Learn & Do

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My Values

Snapdragon Life is a Company of One - its values are my values.

Every day I try to do better. Try to live a little lighter. Try to contribute more.

It is an ongoing journey and I am learning every day.

Here is where I am.

  • Money - 10% of all profit, along with 100% of my speaking and mentoring fees, goes to The Snapdragon Foundation and is distributed to support projects aimed at 14-24 year olds in the UK. The Snapdragon Foundation is a registered charity and was set up in 2015. It supports small scale, often grass roots, projects with an emphasis on inclusion and access to creativity and green space.
  • Marketing - I believe that many ecological and social problems are caused by scarcity marketing, by pushing people's buttons, fetishising products and encouraging them to buy things that they do not need. I have moved away from this kind of marketing and actively encourage people to take their time and consider purchases or, indeed, to use what they may already have.
  • Materials - My primary aim is to recycle materials. I am currently not buying new fabrics and am reusing things in my own, and other people's, stashes. Where I am buying supplies, for example the alpaca sock blanks and the wool for natural dyeing, I am researching all possibilities and trying to make the most ecological and people friendly decision. This is not always clear cut and may evolve as I learn more. For packaging and printed materials I have moved to 100% recycled paper, tissue, tape and boxes and am attempting to make everything useful and beautiful so that it is kept.
  • Sourcing - where at all possible I source from the UK. Seeds are from 5 different independent UK seed merchants and the majority are grown in the UK. Almost all the flower seeds and a lot of the vegetable seeds are open pollinated varieties, so the seed can be saved from year to year and create plants that are best for your local conditions - I am intending to gradually move over to 100% open pollinated varieties by 2022. Linen and wool fabrics are sourced from UK mills and, where possible, I use seconds, ends of rolls and deadstock.
  • Waste - Reducing the size of runs has radically reduced wastage, though it does mean that I go out of stock of some things more quickly. I have also moved away from stickers and all backing paper type printing related to products/packing. Royal Mail labels, which have an unrecyclable backing, continue to be an issue. Paper and card packaging that comes with supplies is composted or fed to the worms. In the past 6 months I have reduced the unrecyclable waste produced by 4/5. There is still work to do.
  • Studio Club - the club has a 'pay what you can' option to allow as many people as possible to afford membership (limited opening at the end of June).
  • Access - I would like to help as many people as possible access my products, writing and tutorials. I am committed to providing free and easily accessed instructions to every craft kit that I make, and to consider inexpensive ways for people to make and grow things. My growing instructions now take account of very small growing spaces and new seed sets are being put together for people gardening in small spaces. I am distributing a percentage of the seed sets to community gardens, this is not tied to sales as I don't feel happy with consumer type marketing. I am currently going back through the website editing alt text fields to make them more accessible to people than to search engines.
  • Community - I am Horticultural advisor and on the Board of Directors of the Community Interest Company G63 Hub which is at the heart of community food projects, running a zero waste shop, community gardens and enabling people to access growing space, learn skills and build community.
  • Volunteering - an important impetus for reducing the size of Snapdragon Life last year was to reclaim a day a week for volunteering within the community. I currently work a day a week for G63 Hub with their community food gardens.

Snapdragon social

If you don't like pinky purples, then I'm afraid that there isn't much at all in my garden for you at the moment.⁠⠀it’s a froth of cow parsley with bobbing purples flowers amongst the white. 
The first growth of the bleeding hearts (dicentra) was all frosted to a mush at the beginning of last month and I thought that there would be no flowers this year.⁠⠀
But here we are . . . . . a little late but like festoons of pink hearts strung out to celebrate. ⁠⠀
Turn them upside down and tweak the petals and you definitely have 'nudie lady in a bath tub'
Before the 1950s there was no flower foam.⁠⠀
Every single flower arrangement was held together behind the scenes with metal and wood and glass and rope and wire.  The towering pillars of flowers in Tudor pageants had complex hidden frames, the pared back displays of the high value specimen flowers of the same time were equally underpinned. Nothing is new.⁠⠀
We have been clearing my in-laws house, going through cupboards and sorting out what to keep, what to pass on. On one of the wardrobe shelves I found all my Mother-in-law's floristry underpinnings - a selection of flower frogs in metal, plastic and glass along with balled up chicken wire, scrumpled to fit into specific bowls and vases.  There was a dried out, used and reused, piece of flower foam too - crumbling nastily and now in the bin.⁠⠀
I mainly use metal pin holders - a type best known from the Japanese tradition Ikebana, where they are called Kenzans.  They were very popular in the UK in 1920s and 30s - giving a solid base to the fashionable top heavy arrangements and stopping the flowers from toppling out of their bowls. ⁠⠀
Many were kept and passed down in a 'it'll come in useful' kind of way so they are easy to get second hand. I have a great collection picked up in charity shops for less than 50p each, each slightly different. ⁠⠀
I especially love the way they allow cut flowers to look as though they are still growing. I used to make meadowy arrangements with them for weddings - lines of different sized pin holders arranged in a long shallow tray, tall grasses and cow parsley impaled upright on the pins, all the underpinnings hidden by a froth of ladies mantle and tiarella.
Poppies are beginning to permeate everything in the garden.⁠⠀
They are, I think, my favourite cut flowers. ⁠⠀
Cut and condition them properly and they will last a week, changing hour to hour as they unfurl themselves from their seed cases and spread their petals wide.⁠⠀
I have a blog on the website front page showing you exactly how to get the best vase life.
Camassia and ribwort plantain.⁠⠀
I would never think of it as a planting combination.⁠⠀
And yet . . . .⁠⠀
Nature knows best
Cow parsley and columbine.⁠⠀
The dark columbines fell over onto the studio path a week ago. I always seemed to have my arms full as I stepped over them, and kept forgetting to return and prop them back up. ⁠⠀
Their rest on the gravel has given them a wonderful crick and crinkle to their stems - much more interesting than straight stems.⁠⠀
This is one tiny corner of the Studio.⁠⠀
Piles of linen and sample of old cotton all neat.⁠⠀
I decided to move all the furniture around in the rest of the room yesterday to make it easier to store things and see them at the same time.⁠⠀
There are lots of piles.  But no neatness.
On Saturday - packing up the plant tables at our local Crop Swap - I met a woman mailing a postcard.⁠⠀
She was walking the West Highland Way.⁠⠀
The walking was partly as a memorial to her Mum who had died a couple of years ago, partly to prove friends wrong who had said that, at 76, she was too old to walk 90 miles.⁠⠀
We chatted about gardening and how it really is the BEST thing for making us happy and went on our ways, me carrying a table, her heading for a sit down and a cup of tea. ⁠⠀
I wish her a midge free walk across the moors, I have no doubt she will get there.
I love birds.⁠⠀
Having the bedroom window feeder is one of the absolute joys of my life.⁠⠀
Being surrounded by fluttering life outside the Studio is amazing.  Increasing the number of birds who live here is one of the garden's best achievements.⁠⠀
However - out of the 18 apple trees I have planted here this is the only one with any blossom.  The rest have been picked off pre-bloom by the very bullfinches that I so admired in March.  I fear they will regret their greed when there are no windfalls come September.⁠⠀
I have also taken to wearing earplugs in bed so that I can have the windows open without being woken up before 3 am by the first blackbird trilling out his territory

About Snapdragon Life

At Snapdragon Life I gently guide you through bringing the changing seasons into your daily life, helping you slow down, so that you can experience increased well being, calm and creativity.


Learn more about why here