Seasonally inspired things to Make, Learn & Do.


A Seasonal Way - the why

a seasonal way - spring

Many of you will know that I live with an auto-immune condition and that over the past decade or so I have discovered that by altering the way I live my life I can diminish the severity of my symptoms and thrive.

One of the weird things about having an auto-immune disease is that there are no external symptoms and on bad days I often worry that I have made it all up - I mean the test results prove that there is something actively, measurably wrong, that should be reassuring, but all the fogginess, the moodiness, the crushing fatigue - what if that is somehow all in my mind. Speaking to others with similar diagnoses I find that this is incredibly common. That voice in the head that goes "But what if you are just being lazy?".

My solution to this has been to read. To read a lot.

I am a researcher at heart - that is pretty much what 2 decades of my life were about, gathering and processing information as a historian - so I suppose it isn't surprising that I have chosen to spend the last ten years reading about breakthroughs in positive psychology and neuroscience, in nature medicine, herbalism, the history and folklore of plants, the science around creativity, foraging, soil microbes.

For a non scientist (a horticulture qualification was the nearest I got to anything sciency, I dropped everything else as soon as I could) I have an awful lot of scientific papers saved on my laptop.

a seasonal way - spring

If you get my newsletter and even more if you are a Studio Member, you will have been in on the journey, so much of this research is mind blowing, life altering and I feel it should be being shouted about from the tree tops much more than it is.

Over the holidays I sent out a newsletter about gorse - it was a shortened version of the nature notes that I have been sending out to members of Snapdragon Studio over the past couple of years - a mix of drawings, history, recipes and folklore.

I have never had such a response to an email - perhaps it was that people had time to act on it over the holidays, perhaps it was that it came at the darkest point of the year in the Northern hemisphere - I don't know, but I had tales from people of taking grandchildren up to smell the gorse on a golf course, memories of washing drying on gorse bushes in the Western Isles, recipes for ice-cream.

Most of all I got requests for more of the same.

a seasonal way - spring

So I suppose that is what A Seasonal Way is - it is more of the same, a slightly eccentric mix of nature, creativity, recipes, science, poetry and illustration - the contents of my brain and my current obsessions packaged up as 5 PDFs sent out over 2 months.

What it isn't is a curriculum or a 'to do' list - there isn't any homework, I actually hope that it will wind its way ninja style into people's lives and that they will find themselves looking out for ash twigs and dandelions, making rather than buying balms, confident in growing things. I hope that it works by osmosis.

There is a closed facebook group which will be open to everyone who buys the course and I'm really excited about seeing what the world is like outside people's front doors.

Because so much of the material is the kind of thing that Snapdragon Studio Members get - and some of it is re-edited from the Members' magazine - all Studio members are getting the entire thing as part of their membership. That makes it a great time to become a member! registration closes on 4th February and the first part will go out later that week.

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Between the plum trees and the studio is a sloping space that was created when we flattened a patch of land to build. It is a mix of subsoil, rocks and odd seams of rich pasture land. ⠀
As grass began to grow there about 7 years ago,  I sowed a perennial meadow mix, I planted lots of random plants from the cutting beds, I worked without a plan, without knowing what would thrive and what would gently vanish. ⠀
Now there is minimal gardening involvement - I try and keep the nettles from taking over, we dig out brambles - and in the autumn and winter I lure the chickens there to scratch out patches of bare soil for the wildflower seeds. ⠀
It’s a patchy space, caught on the cusp of abandonment - but it is the most beautiful space in the garden, buzzing with insects, rustling with birds. ⠀
Low light, bright petals, setting sun. ⠀
A couple of days ago I got a message from a friend asking what I thought about all the 'picking wild flowers' photos on here and the fact that a country style magazine was promoting it as a
My Gran had hangers like these.  Knitted from odds and ends of wool, hanging softly squashed together in the big dark wardrobe in her bedroom.⁠⠀
My cousin and I would take the fancy silky 1960s dresses from them and transform ourselves into glamorous detectives, spying on passers-by from behind the net curtains, making notes.⁠⠀
Now the hangers are my favourite things to make from wool scraps - each takes 37 grams of wool and you only need to be able to do a plain stitch to make it. ⁠⠀
As well as being chock full of nostalgia for me, they are also the most practical kind of hanger, as the garter stitch keeps even the flimsiest of straps in place so clothes don’t end up on the floor.
This week's business improvement was deciding to make the postcards that go in with orders more useful, getting Kate Stockwell to turn them into activity cards for me. ⁠⠀
This is the first, going out with orders from today.⁠⠀
I’m always amazed at how many plants from sunnier climes take to the garden. ⠀
Sicilian honey garlic - Nectaroscordum siculum - is one of the plants that grow in rows in the orchard - ghosts of the flower field, buzzing with bees, happy in grass, a strong whiff of onion as I pass. ⠀
This month I’ve been experimenting with solar dyeing- using plants and sunlight and a jar to dye wool on the windowsill. 
I was amazed at what bright shades were possible and at how easy and self contained it turned out to be. 
It was part of the Studio Membership mini “Introduction to plant dyes” course but I’ve also put together a kit in the shop with full instructions and everything you need to get started with solar dyeing wool (there are mini skeins in the kit). The photo is my drying rack on the dye deck - part of the studio where I used to prep flowers when I sold them. 
The wood rack used to be for shoes and wellies.
Inspired by @josephinepbrooks I’m still using this time for some serious decluttering of my business - looking hard at which parts have descended over the years into one of those drawers stuffed full of things.  Which bits are muddled, useless, impossible to open without everything falling out. 
Last week was the turn of the blog - so many out of date things, so many broken links, pretty much impossible to browse. 
Now it’s been sorted out - David and @fuzzyjill at Fuzzy Lime helped me divide it into sections and now it’s all easily accessible from the navigation bar.

So if you are looking for tutorials, nature notes, gardening, recipes or musings on life you can find them without scrolling through hundreds of pages. 
And - as always seems to happen when you  declutter - I’m suddenly full of ideas for things to write about, so that I can fit them nicely into my new space! 
The poppies are from Friday’s blog about how they make wonderful cut flowers.
Another week. Another new morning 
I was chatting to a friend yesterday about what was the best thing about running my own business - and I decided that it was probably being excited about each day and all the things I want to do. ⠀
That I now rarely need to force myself. ⠀

Today it’s finishing off this week’s Studio Members lesson about solar dyeing and putting together these activity postcards which I am getting printed to go out with orders. ⠀
What are you looking forward to doing today?

About Snapdragon

At Snapdragon we 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.

Through our communities, both free and paid for, through Jane's writing on the blog, through carefully hand crafted gifts and activity kits, and through our online and in-person workshops we aim to bring people back in touch with the rhythms of a seasonal life.

Learn more about why here