Seasonally inspired things to Learn, Make and Do

Journal

Opening up the garden

snapdragon studio open day A couple of weeks ago we hosted a Snapdragon Studio Members Open Day. Members came and looked around the garden, ate cake, got to see the workshop and find out how we make things and took home flowers.

The sun shone, it was a beautiful day and I enjoyed meeting people and telling them about what we are doing here.

I loved it - I really loved connecting to people face to face.

But in the run up to it I had been really nervous - really, really nervous; on the point of cancelling nervous and I couldn't quite work out why.

And then I remembered another group of visitors - a group from long, long ago that I thought I had dismissed completely from my mind.

Back when I grew flowers commercially I was contacted by a Garden Society asking if they could come and see the garden. I said yes, I tidied up, I baked a cake, I got ready to welcome people and answer their questions. And on the day, the bus turned up and half the women decided not to even get off the bus, and with a couple of exceptions, the rest were sniffy and rude.

Instead of taking the chance to look around, to ask questions and take back some ideas for their own gardens they closed their minds and forgot their manners.

I was angry and hurt at the time but thought I had dismissed it all as stupid, snobbish. It was only now, when I began to wake up in the morning thinking 'what if everyone just drives away when they see we have weeds?' and 'maybe they will all just cancel their memberships' that I remembered those snooty women and I realised what I had been doing.

I had allowed my present day reactions to be effected by something that happened once, on a day many years ago.

I had been carrying a fear of showing anyone my garden and workshop just in case they were nasty. And, what is worse, I saw a pattern of my playing that out year after year after year - the pulling out of the Local Open Studios scheme, the saying no to garden photographers. The hiding things in case anyone laughed at something which is so precious to me.

open day garden scheme

As is often the case, identifying the root of my behaviour went to along way to cure it. I remembered sitting in a workshop run by Sarah Raven in Edinburgh with the pompous women next to me discussing how much couch grass Christopher Lloyd had in the borders at Great Dixter 'How he can call himself a gardener I don't know'.

I laughed at that at the time and found it ridiculous - and yet I had allowed similarly stupid comments to diminish my joy in my (much weedier) garden.

And that was the problem - not the unmannered visitors - but my reaction to them.

I can't control the actions and words of other people but I can control my reactions to them.

My garden is a work in progress, the workshop is a working space, put together from odds and ends on a budget. We have weeds, we have lots of weeds, we have plants collapsed because my staking is terrible and others pecked to pieces by chickens. We have plantings that just didn't quite work out as I imagined, we have broken things and lots and lots of areas still being made.

Personally I love to see behind the scenes in places that aren't perfect - the gardens when I have been shown round out of season mean so much more to me than ones buffed up and shiny.

I loved showing people round and chatting to them so much that I decided to do much more of that next year - we will have a members' day again in the Spring when the tulips are blooming and we are looking into ways of doing little informal workshops - perhaps through Air BnB experiences which is now available outside cities.

I have stopped hiding.

open day garden scheme

Comments: 2 (Add)

Theresa on September 14 2018 at 10:30

Funny you should say any of this as I am realising that I have been doing the same. You freeze up and stop doing things. If only these small minded and rude people could see the damage they do to themselves and others. When we are young looking ahead to this time of our lives I think we all believe that we will aquire a well of robust confidence, little knowing that we are quite vulnerable, but in a different way.

Carol Elaine Deys on September 14 2018 at 12:41

Your garden sounds familiar! With a couple of months of pneumonia this year, things got ahead of me.....but my garden also brought me some surprises as they worked it out all on their own. As a believer in garden fairies - Lavender is our key resident - I am thankful! Would love to come and visit, but am a long, long ways away. God bless you in your wonderful work. Love and peace to you, Carol Elaine

PS - As founding member of the Fingerlakes Tasha Tudor Society in NY State (USA) I know that although she loved to be attendant to her garden, she also realized the value of sometimes just letting some parts do their own thing. Take a look at some of her books. You would love them!

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Engagement, connection, community, regeneration, celebration, magical, possibility.⁠⠀
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Words matter.  Words matter so much. ⁠⠀
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Yesterday I walked around a new local community garden that I am to be involved in.  I walked the site with Lauren @herbal_homestead (who looks after @katgoldin ‘s market garden at the Gartur Farm School) who is the permaculture consultant for the project.⁠⠀
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The words at the top of this post were the words that were tumbling about as we walked along the stream that edges the plot and discussed the contours and what the potential is for this new space.⁠⠀
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I have missed those words a lot.⁠⠀
Elderberry vinegar, a brilliant natural immunity booster and treatment for sore throats, is steeping in my cupboard at the moment - the colour is so vibrant it is obvious that it MUST be good for you.⁠⠀
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It is one of the things you learn to make in the Simple Herbal Apothecary course in the Studio Club. ⁠⠀
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It is really funny how having a Pay What You Can option for membership has made me feel that I can talk about what you get in the Studio Club without feeling all 'exclusive' (I hate that word because, when you think about it, it actually means that some people are excluded and that we are fine with that).⁠⠀
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The Pay What You Can option has been really popular - second only to the Full Membership - which makes me very happy. ⁠⠀
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I've had a lot of emails from people who had been looking at joining the Studio Club for a while but couldn't justify the cost - because unemployment or illness or caring for others restricts their budget - but who have now been able to join.  So if that sounds like you the details are all on the front page of the website - snapdragonlife.com.⁠⠀
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Time.⁠⠀
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Yesterday I asked a question about luxury and the thing that came up again and again in answers was 'time'.⁠⠀
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Time to just be.  Time to do things for ourselves. Time to be creative or read. Time to focus.⁠⠀
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It made me think - that if we see time is our greatest luxury, why do we squander it so?  I know I do.  I scroll.  I dither. I catch myself almost deliberately doing nonsensical things that waste time to the point that it completely disappears.⁠⠀
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Give me an unexpectedly free evening and my natural tendency is to waste half of it deciding what I want to do MOST.⁠⠀
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(This is why I created the Plan your Dream Life workbook for myself - just so that I would have a list of things that I knew I had chosen to do when time appears - if you don't have this workbook already you can get it by signing up to my newsletter list Snapdragonlife.com.)⁠⠀
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What is your idea of luxury?⁠⠀
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I stumbled across a discussion about luxury on a post the other day. It was about whether you could crave luxury in your life if you were also set in “overthrowing the capitalist systems our world is based on”.⠀
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In some ways it was hilarious, and shows what a muddle we get into, but It really made me think about what I count as luxuries in my life  They certainly aren’t what the commenters on the original post defined as luxury - the fancy sports car, the designer brand names, expensive toiletries. ⁠⠀
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Rather, my idea of luxuries are things I want in my everyday life.  Proper coffee, clean sheets for the weekend, tomatoes still warm from the sun - perhaps most importantly, the luxury of time to do nothing more than stare upwards through bright leaves . . .⁠⠀
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What about you?⁠ what are your luxuries?⠀
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Messy edges.⁠⠀
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Pretty much everything in the House Garden and Studio Meadow will stand until Spring now.⁠ I will leave it alone. ⠀
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For in my head I'm not really growing teasels, I'm growing gold finches. 
Yesterday, as I headed down through the meadow to light the studio stove, were dozens feeeling atop the teasel heads.
It is the time of the year to embrace the beauty in decay.⁠⠀
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To look at the soil regenerating.⁠⠀
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The appreciate the beauty of a good compost heap -even when it is composting the cosmos that you had hoped would bloom for a couple of more weeks.
Yesterday the doors of the Studio Club opened up to new members again. ⠀
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If you want to engage more with the natural world, live a more seasonal life, learn how to grow things, make things and also hear good news about inspirational people making a positive difference to the world - then this is the Club for you! ⠀
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There are now three ways of becoming a member - a Full Membership which includes physical products, a Digital Membership and a Pay What You Can Membership. You can find out more about them by clicking though my profile or at Snapdragonlife.com. ⠀
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In less than 24 hours over half the Full Memberships sold out - so if you are thinking of signing up for one of those then I would do it sooner than later. ⠀
Nettles and docks and tansy and meadowsweet. ⁠⠀
Heather and willow and onion skins.⁠⠀
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The journey through plant colours this year is coming to fruition.  Out of frame is a striped jumper on my needles.⁠⠀
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I am hoping to have enough yarn to make something for a newly arrived baby - all the energy of the Scottish hills in something to wear.
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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.

 

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