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The Perennial Meadow 2019

perennial meadow

Our land here is unusual - across the road is a shallow ridge of a hill - once the terminal moraine of Loch Lomond - the point where the ice came to 15,000 years ago.

That gave us boulders and silt and all kinds of debris under the field that became our garden. Then, in modern times, the last 150 years of farming had used the edge of the land to dump spoil and everything unwanted, letting it tumble down the hill to the valley - dug up tarmac, field stones, bits of rusted up machinery all appear in what should be virgin soil.

Soil testing gives us radically different results in patches 15 feet apart.

When we built the studio-workshop which is down in the dip, halfway between the flat orchard and the wooded valley - a great heap of spoil was created. This contained all the worst of our land - the gravelly patches, the rusted wheels, the old advertising hoardings and barbed wire and boulders. Too much to tackle at the time it was graded by the builders into a smooth hill and some of the top soil put back on top.

perennial meadow

This became the experimental perennial meadow - a mad mix of plants, moved from what was my original cutting garden - to see what would battle it out and thrive in the wild amongst the weeds.

To see also whether the soil made a difference - I am particularly interested in how plants choose their place.

The meadow is now in its 8th year - the maintenance is deliberately light - we weed out nettles, brambles, docks and broom seedlings but everything else is allowed to stay. Seedheads stay over winter - the teasels are particularly beautiful - and are cut down in early March.

This year the grass is perhaps too dominant for the first time - particularly in the centre, so we may pull some of that in the autumn and seed the patches with something else.

perennial meadow

What I love best about this area is the variety and also how so many wild flowers have moved in to join my garden plants. This year, for the first time we have a little colony of orange hawksbit flowering right at the top of the slope, next to the workshop path. The burnt orange flowers are a perfect contrast to the dominant greens and purples.

Garden flowers that are thriving throughout the slope

  • Allium purple sensation
  • Oriental Poppies
  • Aquilegia - all kinds
  • Astrantia - all kinds but astantia major is the strongest
  • Black leaved cow parsley
  • Cirsium
  • Sanguisorba

Garden flowers that are thriving at the edges

  • Peonies
  • Sweet Rocket
  • Mallow
  • Sweet William
  • Alchemilla

Wild flowers that arrived and are happy throughout

  • Teasels
  • 27 types of grass
  • Buttercups
  • Forget me nots
  • Welsh poppies
  • Cow parsley
  • Field poppies

Wild flowers that arrived and are happy at the edges

  • Orange hawkbit
  • Water avens
  • Meadow daisies
  • Speedwell
  • Cornflowers

I am going to try introducing Japanese anemones and geums in the autumn to see how they do - and perhaps some more varieties of alliums.

Things that were not happy

  • Roses
  • Allium Christopher and multibulbosum
  • Gladioli

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Yesterday marked 32 years since Euan and my first date. I spent time looking through photo albums for a record of that time. There weren’t any photos - I don’t think I had a camera or the cash needed to develop photos back then - but there were a few pressed flowers. ⠀
I don’t know what they were from, I should have labelled them, but they obviously meant enough to keep. ⠀
This photo is of the little brass frame from our Flower Press kit that was the most recent Studio Box. We have a few left packed up and after that it will be repackaged as a more expensive gift version. ⠀
If you were thinking of buying one, either as a one off or as the start of a quarterly subscription you can find out more by clicking the link in my profile.
Poppies are really the best cut flowers. Especially if you are stuck inside and can watch them gradually open. All varieties work - from wild corn poppies to the flamboyant oriental poppies. ⠀
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Cut them in full bud, if you can see the petals just about to burst through that’s perfect. ⠀
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Sear the bottom inch of stem in boiling water for 5 seconds and then arrange. The lower stem will go black so best in an opaque vase. ⠀
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If you recut above the black line you need to re-sear. ⠀
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They should last 5 days. 5 days of wonder.
Yesterday was the first hot day, the first day in the garden when I didn’t feel that all my poor plants are shivering and shrinking. ⠀
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It was also the first day for weeks that I had completely clear, no plans, no work, nothing but time to potter and plant. Glorious. ⠀
What is your weekend like? ⠀
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(Today it is back to being windy but I don’t care as I’m also back at work, prepping everything so that we are ready to send out the magazine part of A Seasonal Way next week)
How do you manage different layers of privacy, vulnerability and messy beginnings online?  I was musing about this yesterday, all the different things I put out into the world - and how I choose where to post them. ⠀
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How I choose what to post here, what goes out in my general newsletter, what goes into my Studio Members Newsletter and what gets posted into my (free) closed Facebook Group Snapdragon Studio Bee. ⠀
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It’s all subtle stuff, the difference I suppose in what you would talk about in a live interview and what you would chat to the interviewer about later, off the record, over coffee. Both conversations are likely honest and true, but one might still be evolving and feel too unformed, too fragile for public consumption.⠀
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I’ve decided to document my beginnings with screen printing in the Snapdragon Studio Bee Facebook Group - it’s a really supportive group and I’ve no fear of judgment in there - if you want to join you would be really welcome. It’s thankfully not a competitive, ego driven group so I think I will feel very comfortable sharing the things that don’t work as well as those that do.
Yesterday was a stressful day.  Our big printer, which does all the textile things, keeled over with a fatal error.⠀
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Repair is seemingly not possible, replacement too expensive.  We had to take about 40% of the things we sell off various websites.  It's not ideal.⠀
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But after I'd got over the frustration of number crunching and having to cancel orders, it seemed like an opportunity really.⠀
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Val and I have been talking about screen printing since the beginning of the year - it is one of the reasons we cleared the workshop so that there is a long central working space.⠀
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I want to be able to draw directly on the screens - and play about with the technique a bit, make the results really immediate, sketched, mine.⠀
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I've ordered supplies and will be working away playing with the technique over the next week or so.⠀
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Sometimes it seems that when I don't move fast enough towards something, fate just seems to create mayhem until there are no other options left but to just ‘do it’. ⠀
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Does anyone else find that?
What is your favourite way to make a house a home? 
I'm not a tidy person - my natural persona is more like Thing 1 and Thing 2 in the Cat in the Hat, everywhere I have been, there is a trail of mess left behind. ⠀
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When I wanted to leave my job as a museum curator Euan said I could do anything I wanted to, he would always support my decision, as long as I didn't attempt to become a housewife because I would be truly terrible at it.⠀
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On Tuesdays though Izabella comes and cleans the house for us (this is why my embroidery morning is a Tuesday, so I can keep out of the way)⠀
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Walking back into the house on a Tuesday lunchtime is always such a lovely feeling - the kitchen is tidy, the floors mopped, order is restored.⠀
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I try to take advantage of the sense of homeliness by doing some of the things I am good at - arranging flowers, cooking.  Often I do so much of these faffing about domestic things that I have managed to make the kitchen a mess by the time anyone else gets home.⠀
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The plum poppies are blooming.  A week late, but here to say happy anniversary Jenny and Jeremy. #ayearinflowers #week24
How tidy are you? Do you like everything out and to hand or do you prefer clear surfaces and blank space?

It’s Tuesday today so that means my embroidery day as I build up a little collection of limited edition works which then go up into the webshop on the last Friday of each month. (Studio members get first dibs and then the link goes into my newsletter later in the day)

I took this photo yesterday afternoon of the bench that is next to my sewing machine. Untidied, un-arranged, but with rather nice light coming in the window. 
There is a half made doorstop, some piles of cut wool to be embroidered and the threads I like to have near at hand. You can see that the wall where I work used to have tiles on it, you can see that I’m neither neat nor organised. 
Showing my day - a 10 second photo, full of reality, potential, and life is what I meant when I talked about doing and Social media last week. 
#doingnotseeming
I welcomed the rain yesterday - it didn't seem so bad to be indoors proofing the final version of the A Seasonal Way magazine.⠀This goes alongside the e-course and community and is at the heart of the whole thing 🌱
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It goes to print tomorrow so I need to decide the final numbers today.  I'm not going to be able to print another run, but equally I don't want to be left with lots of copies.⠀
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So today is the last day to order to guarantee that your A Seasonal Way has a hard copy rather than a digital copy of the magazine part.⠀
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This article is about off grid holidays, why they appeal and what we get from them.  The mug in the background with coffee is by @amandabanhamceramics.⠀
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You can find out more about the A Seasonal Way course by clicking through my profile, or in the A Seasonal Way story highlight.  I would love it if you felt you could share about what I'm doing here!  The more people join in, the better the community will be.
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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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