Seasonally inspired things to Learn, Make and Do


The good foraging code

bottles of meadow buttercups

As foraging becomes more popular it is important to know what the rules are - both the legal rules and the ecological rules - before you set out with your basket.

Where can you pick?

Right of access to land (the right to roam in Scotland) does not mean a right to forage. If the land is privately owned then you must ask specific permission of the landowner to pick anything. This is especially important on farmland and the edges of farmland where, as well as livestock and crop issues, there may well be activities going on that you don't know about - whether that is a habitat restoration or chemical spraying, you do not want to be foraging there.

General foraging is usually not allowed in parks or recreation areas, but there may well be a specific area where it is allowed.

You can get a list of common areas from your council.

On a lot of land managed by the National Trust, the Woodland Trust and National Parks foraging is allowed but it is important to check as some have areas designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest or areas where ground nesting birds are common where it is not permitted.

The UK coast is mainly owned by the Crown and Conservation charities - both of which tend to be fine about foraging for personal consumption - though it is worth checking, particularly where there may be rare species under protection.

Where would you want to forage?

Think about what might have come before you - cars, peeing dogs, people's feet, chemical sprays, industrial residue - and make sensible decisions. Picking meadow buttercups from industrial wasteland isn't an issue but I'm not sure I would want to eat anything growing in that ground.

What can you collect?

The guide is that you can collect the 4 Fs - foliage, flowers, fruit and fungi. These are basically the parts of a plant which will naturally regenerate.

What can't you collect?

Anything that is protected - you can get a list of the protected species in the UK here.

You cannot uproot anything without express permission - this includes things like digging up wild garlic and replanting in your garden, just as much as taking rare orchids. It also includes lichen and moss. If you want lichen pick windfall pieces as they are already uprooted but leave anything on a tree, even a dead tree.

Anything not for your own consumption (commercial foraging needs proper permissions as so many areas have been destroyed by it)

I would add . . . .

Don't collect the first 10 of anything you see and never pick more than 10% from an area. Remember that this is food and habitat for birds, insects, amphibians, small mammals.

Never pick more than you KNOW you are going to use. Don't pick if you don't have the correct equipment with you - so don't pick flowers if you don't have water to carry them in, don't forage for mushrooms if you are stuffing them in pockets.

Always make sure you know what you are picking BEFORE you pick it.

Inspect for signs of insect eggs BEFORE you pick.

Do not trample an area while picking.

Consider whether taking your dog is appropriate - dogs can spook wildlife and farm stock even if they are well behaved and under control. Spooked birds abandon nests, spooked sheep can miscarry, you may not even realise.

It is really all about respect - respect for other people, respect for wildlife, respect for the countryside.

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Snapdragon social

Seraphina's eleven babies have grown so fast.⁠⠀
Now when she tries to gather them under her - usually if she hears the buzzard overhead - they all head under her feathers but their heads and tails stick out the side.⁠⠀
She seems unperturbed and a little like an overstuffed tea cosy.
I think that the last time I had this wooden clothes horse out was when we needed to dry cloth nappies c. 2001.⁠⠀
The plant dyed alpaca house socks have all cured now, the dye is well sunk into the fibres, so over the past couple of days I've been washing and pressing and packaging them.⁠⠀
The link to the shop page for them will go out in Friday's newsletter first - the actual newsletter is all about the dye deck and if you want to get it straight into your inbox you can sign up on the website or through my profile.⁠⠀
These were all dyed with tansy - the very yellow ones from the plant at the top of the Studio meadow, the slightly more orange ones from the plant down by the Studio door.
Last year, in the spring,  I got a tiny amount of seed of a grey Shirley poppy. ⁠⠀
I sowed half and gave half to @gracealexanderflowers .⁠⠀
None came up, in my garden at least.⁠⠀
This year two plants have appeared - a little fey and wan as Shirley poppies go, but with definitely grey flowers. ⁠⠀
Well kind of a purply grey . . . and if I'm honest I prefer the rich plums of Pandora . . . but It is eminently instagrammable.
Yesterday Seth Godin wrote that instead of getting our ideas spread like wildfire (uncontrolled, destructive, leaving nothing) we should get them to spread like wildflowers instead.⁠⠀
I loved this idea.  Ideas that self seed and spread in groups, ideas that place themselves where they are happiest, where they can thrive.⁠⠀
Ideas that take root in unpromising places and bring joy.

These daisies moved into the top of the Studio Meadow last year- spreading from the garden rather than the fields- but wilding themselves none the less.
A bright new morning starting a bright new week. ⁠⠀
A row of dog daisies and love in a mist, fresh and light and optimistic.⁠⠀
I feel like I'm hovering on the edge of planning things outside my studio this week. It is tentative.⁠⠀
Today I have a meeting about something that will involve me leaving the premises. I'm part excited, part terrified - I think they are probably the same things in many ways.⁠⠀
I'm building up to going on holiday in a few weeks. It feels vertiginous.  I definitely need to build my social muscles back up.⁠⠀
The globe thistles shouldn't be there. ⁠⠀
It was meant to be a temporary nursery bed.⁠⠀
They were a root cutting from my parents' garden - memories of pulling off the heads as missiles.⁠⠀
It is the perfect place for them.⁠⠀
Low sun barrels along the path as the gloaming comes. ⁠⠀
They glow in the golden hour.⁠⠀
I leave the heads alone.
Of all the half hardy annuals that are beginning to flower here, I think that cosmos purity is my favourite. ⁠⠀
Happy and light and generous with its flowers.⁠⠀
As you pick it, the foliage smells that dense herby/incense way that is perfect for the late summer/early autumn time.
Yesterday I was chatting to Eileen, who volunteers in the garden on Wednesday mornings, about how the Studio meadow changes in the light.  In particular how the warmer light in August - especially the soft evening light - makes everything glow.⁠⠀
Walking back from checking things at work I snapped these big daisies with a speckle of purple loosestrife behind them.  Softly glowing.⁠⠀

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.

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

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