Seasonally inspired things to Learn, Make and Do


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!

Snapdragon social

When I was at University it was the time of the Poll Tax, an unpopular tax made even more unpopular by being implemented in Scotland a year before the rest of the UK - 'Thatcher's guinea pigs'.⁠⠀
It was a time of demonstration and violence with 50,000 marching in Glasgow, 1 million Scots refusing to pay. ⁠⠀
It was a time Sheriff's Officers and poind sales of possessions. ⁠⠀
Coalition student groups were formed - Socialist and Feminist and Anarchist and so on - there were big meetings in the Union, debates about a name and a logo and a manifesto. I remember lots of young, middle class, white men talked at length.  I remember that very, very little got done - a bus was organised to take students to Glasgow for the protests. ⁠⠀
In the meantime, up the hill from the campus, three women (I thought of them as old at the time but I'm sure they were the age I am now) simply stood outside the auctions and asked nobody to attend.  They stood by the front doors, they explained their reasons, they prevailed.  They possibly looked randomly menacing in that way middle aged women can.⁠⠀
People calmly bought back their possessions for 50p and their debts were squared. Action, meaningful results, a recognition that the personal is political - all while the student groups still debated their slogans.⁠⠀
I've been thinking about those women a lot recently. If they were the age I think they were, they will be queuing up for their vaccines this month.
In my happy place.⁠⠀
In the winter months The Studio is the centre of my working life. ⁠⠀
This was yesterday.  Trimming pieces of vintage velvet fabric for the Studio Club shop; alpaca socks drying in the dispatch room behind me (we now have size 8-10 in stock too); a roll @scottishlinen seconds to experiment with hogging the cutting table.⁠⠀
Bright and light and inspiring.
Starting the week with a photo from last year (simply because I lost a lot of this weekend to fatigue, so didn't take a new photo.)⁠⠀
Budgie, my beautiful and psychotic cat, with a windowsill of white amaryllis. ⁠⠀
Worth a second outing.
The proposed airstream conversion is in for planning permission approval at the moment, so that we change change its use from (neglected) artist's workshop into beautiful holiday accommodation.⁠⠀
In my vision for this we get to use the paid holidaymaking element to subsidise some artist's residencies - painters, writers, musicians, makers coming here to soak up the landscape and be inspired.⁠⠀
At the moment though I'm still at the stage of answering environmental health questions about quite how loud I am in my Studio and how we will light the path to the compost loo.
Yesterday my elder daughter, who lives in London, messaged me to say that our local DPD driver Slav was being given an award by for his outstanding service. 

It was because of the hundreds of messages that they had been sent commenting on his helpfulness, incredible good cheer, and parcel based problem solving.⁠⠀

Slav has been an important part of my lockdown life here. ⁠⠀
When roads look like this, good delivery drivers are a vital (and hopefully appreciated) part of life.⁠⠀
As my younger daughter chimed in “Go Slav!
This photo is from last week - but I see through the gloom that it has snowed overnight .⁠⠀
This part of the garden is outside our bedroom, the beech hedge borders the road, it used to be a drive when our bedroom was a garage.⁠⠀
Now it has a birch tree (symbolic for me of my miscarried babies, as I had to leave their actual birch trees behind when we moved here) surrounded by lots of box grown from small plants and cuttings.⁠⠀
We buried Jasmine, my scruffy miniature schnauzer, here in the summer, so in some ways it is becoming a garden for sitting on the bench and remembering and watching the birds.  I shall ask my ever generous  friend Nadja for some snowdrops to plant in the grass.⁠⠀
In my mind, eventually, the box balls will become like the ones on the front of @arnemaynardgardendesign book Garden Design Details - but this year they remain unclipped. ⁠⠀
I suspect box blight in the back garden and @jekkamcvicar points out that unclipped box does not get blight.⁠⠀
I love old gates - particularly old gates that stand in the middle of old unused spaces, leading to nowhere, keeping nothing in.⁠⠀
A memory of another time.
Last year - while I was dyeing socks out on my Studio deck, I was also dyeing wool yarn. ⁠⠀
Wool dyed with docks and nettle, gorse and meadowsweet, onions and plum bark all from the garden and lane.⁠⠀
Over the winter I gathered the wool skeins together - all the soft bright colours - and knitted myself an oversized stripy jumper. ⁠⠀
@rhiannonconnelly described it as wearing 'a hug from my garden' and I think she was spot on. ⁠⠀
The pattern is the 'After the Rain' sweater by @heidikdesigns but with random stripes as I wasn't sure how much of each colour I had. #aftertherainsweater

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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