Seasonally inspired things to Learn, Make and Do

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 (opens again beginning of April).
  • 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 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

The sun room table, an old enamel basin, hazel twigs and pure glamour from green tinged white trumpets.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
I looked up yesterday lunchtime and the garden was full of sunshine. ⁠⠀
⁠⠀
There are a few places in the (very messy) house where keeping a bit of negative space, clear surfaces, a sense of breathing out pays off.  This white table is one of them.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
I took this on Sunday, disappointingly it is currently cluttered up with things (a nest, two candles, a box of matches, some receipts) to take down to the Studio.
Over the past year I have become increasingly uncomfortable about how we talk about the seasons to the point that I feel I need to say something.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
I'm particularly uncomfortable about how we talk about using the seasons as a life guide.  I can understand why this has happened - it is great, easily understood marketing, it is a ready built structure, I'm sure it helps the people who are desperately in need of rules and timetables at the moment.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
But it is rooted in a very particular idea of what seasons look like - particularly the 4 defined seasons of the UK, Europe and North America;⁠⠀
⁠⠀
Which would be fine if people were talking about their local area, the view from their window.  But that doesn't seem to be the case - this seasonal structure is built up into a programme to follow, the language is very much that 'this is the correct way to think about life'.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
But, if you are saying that the dormant season is the time to rest and recuperate, what does that say about countries where the seasons don't look like that.  Is there to be no rest? Is everyone to adopt the seasons in the UK as the 'correct' version? ⁠⠀
⁠⠀
Language matters, because language is where our assumptions lie.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
⁠The photo is of a rose hip - rose hips are the only berries left in the hedges now.  I used to think that it was because they tasted spiky that the birds left them till there were no other options but recently I found that they have the least calories.  The ivy, rowan and hawthorns produce the Kendal mint cake of berries - perfect for seeing the birds through the cold - so get eaten first.⁠⠀
There is a lot of talk at the moment about what 'seasonal flowers' means - the wonderful @wolveslaneflowercompany have been addressing the issue and they have a great story thread exploring the issue saved in their highlights.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
It was a thing that used to bother me a lot when I grew flowers because I only ever sold flowers that grew here, that was the whole point of the business - and in Scotland seasons are very late. I spent a lot of time explaining to brides that not everything is available at every time of the year. ⁠⠀
⁠⠀
I didn't ever have cut flowers until April.  I missed both Valentines and Mother's Day. ⁠⠀
⁠⠀
This is what I have as flowers in my home through January and February - glamorous, long lasting, amaryllis bulbs are on every surface. ⁠⠀
⁠⠀
Elsewhere cut hazel twigs in jam jars are taking over the windowsills. next week I may add in some snowdrops.
Yesterday I sent out a newsletter about extractivism - about the human tendency to push and exploit and keep extracting until we end up with a husk.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
It was sparked by conversations I had after the Oxford Real Farming Conference and a realisation that there is a thread that ties colonialism, industrial farming, privatisation of services and the way we often treat ourselves.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
I've been having such interesting conversations with the people who replied.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
I resend my newsletters to new subscribers on Sundays so if you want to sign up you can click through my profile to the website front page.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
We have been frozen here for a while - the top inch of ground thawed yesterday, but under that was rock hard.  Most of the garden is a low flood of slush floating on ice.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
The hardy annual plants I sowed in late September and transplanted in October are currently under snow but looking pretty terminal.  The temperature in the polytunnel went down to -6 last week and the salad crops turned to mush.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
Were I remotely self sufficient it would be proving a hard winter.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
But I'm not, so I just add more plants to my sowing plan - sowing seeds is my favourite thing - and admire the beauty of the hoar frost, and feel happy that I have food in the store cupboard and logs in the woodpile and a big pile of books by me.
'See a pin and pick it up and all the day you'll have good luck'.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
I have been embroidering a tiny run of linen needle/pin cases to go into the shop tomorrow - and I have embroidered this rhyme inside them - a reminder of the time when pins were made by hand and were to be treasured and looked after. ⁠⠀
⁠⠀
It gives a new appreciation to the term 'pin money' too - the modern kinds of pins, shiny in their plastic box that have made us assume that the term meant a small amount, left over change for fripperies. ⁠⠀
⁠⠀
In reality it was used as an alternative name for a household allowance - the amount of which was often laid out in the marriage contract - and was the money that a woman had complete legal control over. If it was unpaid a woman could sue her husband or his estate for back pay.
Allium Chistophii are rolling around under the espalier apple trees in the vegetable patch. ⠀
⠀
I always hope for a little light self seeding as they go. ⠀
⠀
Now they are like glittery tumbleweeds in the frost. ⠀
⠀
In truth we bought the airstream to avoid a divorce.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
We bought it on Ebay late at night after sharing a bottle of wine.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
At the time I was running a business from the house - from a house that was about half the size it is now, a jumble of tiny rooms, painted plywood floors, two small children and a high level of sticky chaos.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
I am not a tidy enough person to run a business in a home - even had it been a well run home with storage space - and those years were not remotely well run.  My invoices always had cereal stuck to them, my sewing machine was parked at the end of the dining table, 90% of my working time seemed to be spent looking for something that I was sure had been left 'just there'.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
So we looked for something that we could afford so I could move the business out of the house - we priced up a chalet style home office from B & Q - and then, on Ebay, we saw the airstream, badly damaged, vandalised, forlorn.  It came in cheaper than the shoffice . . . .⁠⠀
⁠⠀
For a few years - before I built the Studio - this was my workspace and since then it has become a storage area and been sadly neglected while I tried to save the money to repair the damaged back window and the sagging floor.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
This weekend we began clearing out all the fabric that was stored in it so that the renovation can begin.  I am very excited.
snapdragon.life
FacebookTwitterPinterest

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

Loading