Reconnect to Nature with Seasonally Inspired things to Make, Learn & Do.

Journal

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

Tags: gardening

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I took my spring flowers out of the press to make way for summer ones.⁠⠀
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I intend to make ones for each season if I can and then frame them as a set - sweet peas and nasturtiums went in yesterday.⁠⠀
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To press flowers all you need is strong boards and absorbent paper - though you can use paper interleaved in heavy books the result is better if you are pressing down evenly rather than like a hinge. ⁠⠀
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I would therefore use the books either side of the paper, chopping boards work well (if you have any you aren't using).⁠⠀
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You can even put the sheets of paper with their interleaved flowers under a heavy rug. ⠀
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Celebrating the seasons. ⠀
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The garden and meadow are full of circles at the moment - beautiful flowering heads of teasels and globe thistles. ⁠⠀
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They are covered in bees which go round and round visiting each tiny flower, working steadily, following the rows.⁠⠀
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I love this season - the sun a little lower, the evenings a little warmer, the long shadows and sweet hum of the insects. ⁠⠀
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Poised before harvest. ⁠⠀
It is tansy time again.⁠⠀
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For me the wonderful thing about seasons is that they go round and around.  They may move onto something new but I always know that they will come around again.⁠⠀
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A lot of what I have been working on for the past few years is learning how to settle myself exactly where I am, in the place where I am, in the season I am in. ⁠⠀
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To resist looking backwards or hurrying forward - to just be where I am.⁠⠀
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And where I am at the moment is in tansy time.  It marks a year since I began experimenting with using natural dyes.  A time of bright yellow alpaca socks and bags and yarn.
Hattie's pincushion.⁠⠀
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I love the common names of plants. ⠀
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Astrantia grows so happily in amongst the grasses of the Studio Meadow - it has been flowering since May and seems full of intentions to carry on.⁠⠀
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It is probably not surprising really as it grows wild in the sloping meadows at the foot of mountains in Central Europe.⁠⠀
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The perfect plant for a textile obsessed person.
It is the time of year when you can pick sweet peas every day.⁠⠀
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I love my sweet peas best with light and space - like a flock of butterflies caught mid-air.⁠⠀
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These are 'Mrs Collier' - presumably a woman known to the breeders Dobie (or Dobbie) & Sons back in Edwardian Edinburgh. ⁠⠀
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You would think that having a popular sweet pea named after you would guarantee immortality, but seemingly not.  I couldn't find out who she was.⁠⠀
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So as these fill the studio with sweet perfume, I am imagining Mrs Collier into life.⁠⠀
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If anyone has hard facts on her please let me know!
Each month or so, as part of Snapdragon Studio Membership, I put together an e-course.  It is a different topic every time and the lessons go out each Tuesday.⁠⠀
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The idea is to encourage people to try new things.  This month's course is about decorative mending - and this week I am designing a project that will form the last couple of lessons.⁠⠀
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It is a pocket patch, embroidered and appliquéd from scraps of linen and cotton. ⁠⠀
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It has been a new thing for me to try too - a project to use all the precious scraps I have been squirrelling away, not quite sure how to use them.⁠⠀
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The base is a 1950s tray cloth with holes in it, the appliqués from a tattered nightdress, the bag that it will go onto is one I dyed with dock flowers.⁠⠀
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Membership is closed at the moment - but I shall be opening the doors back up for the last week of September. If you want to be the first to know sign up to my newsletter list.
Years ago, actually maybe just last year, I saw a display of ferns in glass laboratory bottles. ⁠⠀
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It may have been at Jupiter Art Land, it may have been somewhere else *. ⁠⠀
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This is my homage. ⁠⠀
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*I think my brain may be broken, so many things seem to have fallen out the side.⁠⠀
Boxes and boxes of A Seasonal Way magazine arrived yesterday and are sitting in the hall here. 
That means that it is the last day to get it at the pre-order price of £8. 

I had this all ready to go to the printers in the second week of March but pulled it - and have then worked for the past few months to make it better. 

It feels good that I can begin packing up Studio Members copies on the day that shielding stops in Scotland.
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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.

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.

Learn more about why here

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