Seasonally inspired things to Learn, Make and 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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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'.⁠⠀
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It was a time of demonstration and violence with 50,000 marching in Glasgow, 1 million Scots refusing to pay. ⁠⠀
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It was a time Sheriff's Officers and poind sales of possessions. ⁠⠀
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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. ⁠⠀
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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.⁠⠀
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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.⁠⠀
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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.⁠⠀
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In the winter months The Studio is the centre of my working life. ⁠⠀
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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.⁠⠀
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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.)⁠⠀
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Budgie, my beautiful and psychotic cat, with a windowsill of white amaryllis. ⁠⠀
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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.⁠⠀
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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.⁠⠀
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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 @official.dpd.uk 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.⁠⠀
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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 .⁠⠀
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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.⁠⠀
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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.⁠⠀
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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.⁠⠀
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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. ⁠⠀
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I suspect box blight in the back garden and @jekkamcvicar points out that unclipped box does not get blight.⁠⠀
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I love old gates - particularly old gates that stand in the middle of old unused spaces, leading to nowhere, keeping nothing in.⁠⠀
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A memory of another time.
Last year - while I was dyeing socks out on my Studio deck, I was also dyeing wool yarn. ⁠⠀
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Wool dyed with docks and nettle, gorse and meadowsweet, onions and plum bark all from the garden and lane.⁠⠀
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Over the winter I gathered the wool skeins together - all the soft bright colours - and knitted myself an oversized stripy jumper. ⁠⠀
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@rhiannonconnelly described it as wearing 'a hug from my garden' and I think she was spot on. ⁠⠀
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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
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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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