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How this magazine changed my life

gardens illustrated changed my life

In September 1996 this magazine landed on my door mat.

It was a freebie that Euan had signed up for (very uncharacteristically) at some event or other.

We were living in a tenement flat in Glasgow at the time, we didn’t have a garden, though I did have some pots on our doorstep,

I was working long hours as a museum curator and studying for a PhD on the side.

I was also very newly pregnant, though possibly didn’t even know that, when I sat down to read the magazine.

It is a particularly good copy of Gardens Illustrated - lots of good articles - but the article that altered the direction of my life is between pages 48 and 53. It was an article about Sarah Raven - a preview of her book “The Cutting Garden” that was due to be published the following month.

I have no idea why this article struck me so strongly - at that point Sarah Raven was working as a wedding florist, growing the flowers for that. It was a few years before the great Perch Hill empire.

But strike me it did - within a couple of months we were looking for a house with a garden in the countryside. Within 4 years I had quit my job to retrain in horticulture and grow cut flowers.

I find this kind of hinging moment fascinating.

Sometimes seemingly quite insignificant things, the signing up for a free magazine, the turning of a page, the sighting of someone across a crowded room, change our lives completely.

Probably the seeds of that were there already there - I was certainly picking flowers from waste ground and filling vases with foraged flowers - and Sarah’s writing merely intensified and ignited the wish.

But maybe it was fate - a way to move me towards a way of life I am much more suited to - a serendipity, a way of the Universe nudging. Who knows.

What I do remember so vividly is actually physically sitting reading the article. I recognised the cover as soon as I saw it while tidying a couple of decades of hoarding in my office last week.

Immediately I was transported back to being 27 and feeling a drive to move, to breathe fresh air, to see more daylight , to grow things. To change my life.

I wonder what things we do in day to day life that, without intending to, spark change in someone else. In someone we perhaps don’t even know..

Like the 27 year old me feeling a little bit suffocated in the city.

Comments: 1 (Add)

Sharon Kitchen on November 16 2018 at 13:42

I love the idea that we may have influenced someone that we don't even know. And I do so want to move out of suburbia and grow that garden in the country. One day!

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Later this morning I am going to be talking about change and business at The Good Life Experience⁠⠀
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The working title for my talk is '5 things I've learned from trashing my business' and its a pretty honest account of what the last 2 and a half years have meant to me.⁠⠀
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The talk is 11.30 in the drawing room of Hawarden Castle - do let me know if you are here and able to come and say
We are promised an Indian summer this weekend - sunshine through seedheads, cool evenings wrapped in blankets.⁠⠀
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I am very glad as we are off to camp at The Good Life Experience tonight - four days of amazing food, ideas, creativity and dogs (ours are staying at home so I am at liberty to fuss everyone else's)⁠⠀
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What are you doing this weekend?
I've always been drawn to women who create homes that feel welcoming.  I believe it is a wonderful skill to welcome people in, to have them relax, to talk properly, to feel safe and listened to. ⠀
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Some of the homes where I've pulled up a chair have been calm and considered, perfect curated spaces that seem to slow down time, others have been full, layered, with piles of things going on and a whirlwind of noise.  I love both.⁠⠀
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My own house veers wildly between the two - occasionally calm and spacious (a friend remarked yesterday how much bigger the kitchen seemed now that I actually have shelves for stuff), more often caught mid-project with piles of books and fabric everywhere.⁠⠀
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What about you?⁠⠀
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This week I am meant to be doing a bit of a recruitment drive for Snapdragon Studio Membership - the price goes up from £10 a month to £15 a month for anyone who joins after 18th September. ⁠⠀
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For anyone who is a member by 18th we are freezing the monthly membership at £10 until the beginning of 2021.⁠⠀
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So if you fancy discounts (these Autumn apothecary jar essential oil soy candles are only £6.13 for our Studio Members for example), a year long Grow Your Own Cut Flowers online course, my Tuesday emails with essays, nature notes, free downloads, as well as a hard copy magazine . . . . well this would be a very good week to join!⁠⠀
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You also get a welcome pack lovingly put together by Valerie.
I fear that this may be the last properly flowery windowsill from the garden - frosts are hovering around the edges. 
One morning soon I shall wake up to a soggy, collapsed and blackened garden and I’ll be hunting in the sheltered corners for undamaged flowers and praising the robustness of sedums. 
But in the meantime I’ll feast on the delicacy of cosmos purity and the single dark, sugar spangled, scabious.
Do you buy new or second hand? Oxfam’s campaign #secondhandseptember is really about clothes but it got me thinking about buying generally - and the way we've put together our home.⁠⠀
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I grew up in a house of antique dealers - my Mum had a market stall, and then a shop, which my brother continues with today - so buying second hand has always been the default.⁠⠀
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We also moved into a 1980s bungalow instead of the old property I had dreamed of and deliberately added in layers of history with reclaimed doors and furniture and floors.⁠ I think that the only new things we have bought may be the beds. ⠀
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This dresser was from Glasgow Architectural Salvage Yard - it was originally in a primary school (which is why it has wonderful chipped and jammy red gloss paint and a strip of plastic bumper tape on the corners!)⁠⠀
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I particularly love the curve of the shelves - they look like they have put in a lot of hard work.
How do you feel about dinner plate dahlias?  I've really struggled to enjoy them - the lollipop-on-stick look of them, the way the stems aren't long enough to make a balanced arrangement without plastic cones.⁠ The way that they collapse inelegantly as they age. ⠀
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Last year I dug them all out and gave them to @Katgoldin to feed her goats.  This year I accidentally ordered a whole load more.⁠⠀
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I've solved the problem by cutting them short and propping them about the place. ⁠⠀
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This is Dahlia Islander in an early C19th rose lustre cup - lounging on a dresser shelf by my Great Grandmother's tea set.⁠⠀
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(It also means you can't see the way the back petals go scruffy before the rest of the flower)
What have been your favourite flowers from this year?

I’m making a list so that I remember what I loved, what I want to make sure I plant for next year.

There is also a list of plants I found disappointing - so that I remember to walk on by and ignore the hype. 
What would be on your lists?
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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

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