Seasonally inspired things to Learn, Make and Do


Where we are - Loch Lomond National Park

Loch Lomond National Park

More and more people have been asking me exactly where Snapdragon Online is based so I thought that I would write a short post about the beautiful area of Scotland that we call home.

Snapdragon is right at the eastern edge of the Loch Lomond National Park - the small low hill opposite our gate is the terminal moraine of the Ice Age loch and the boundary of the park runs along our front hedge.

We are about 10 minutes drive from the eastern bank of Loch Lomond where this photo was taken.

Loch Lomond is in Central Scotland - slightly north of Glasgow. It takes us about half an hour to reach the cities of Glasgow and Stirling and about an hour through to Edinburgh.

It is an area of distant hills and green fields, the gateway to the wilder Highlands.

The West Highland Way - a long distance route for walkers - passes the end of our road.

At this time of year the heather is out and the lower parts of the mountains that surround us turn deep vibrant purple.

It rains a lot (hence the green fields).

Snapdragon itself is based in a field behind my home - there is a silver airstream and a wooden workshop perched in wild pasture above a bluebell wood.

We don't cultivate most of this space but are leaving it to become wild - the grass thatch is full of shrews that bring barn owls swooping for prey in the evenings and herons glide through searching for food every morning ...

When we moved here, 13 years ago, the garden was very tidy, close cropped, manicured and there was very little wildlife so we have concentrated on bringing living things back, planting fruiting trees, hedges and leaving well alone.

So far it is working and the whole plot hums with activity from birds and insects.

It is much less maintenance too, useful in what is a ridiculously large space to manage ourselves in the time we have available.

One area that we have planted up is the spoil heap which was created when we built the workshop.

This had a lot of old farm waste in it - quarry spoil, poor soil from other building projects, fence wire and rubble - so we planted it as a perennial meadow, an experiment to see what garden plants would survive.

The area is now thriving - a shaggy delight of a garden with tough cultivars like peonies and astrantia growing through self seeded wild flowers. Many of the photos that I share on instagram and Facebook are of this patch.

It terrifies and confuses people who appreciate a tidy garden but I love it.

This part of the country with its amazing light and shadows, its peacefulness and wild things is my inspiration. If you don't know it already, I would put it on your 'to visit' list.

We don't have a shop here, but if you want to come and visit the workshop (NOT IN DECEMBER) email and we shall put the kettle on.

Comments: 2 (Add)

Jeannine Hilton-Tull on September 20 2017 at 18:38

What a beautiful description of your home and land. Your description reminds me of places here in the Pacific Northwest. Our weather isn't as severe as the east coast of the US but we have areas of wild forests and lakes. In fact I live a few blocks from beautiful Lake Whatcom. The community that I live in Bellingham is very conscious of preserving our lake, forest and water. I am lucky to live here.
Jane, your wild gardens sound delightful. What a great way to beautify the land. My mother's family are from Scotland. We are from the Bruce and Cameron family.
Happy Fall to you and all at Snapdragon.

Anney Tom on September 21 2017 at 13:23

Thanks so much for telling us about your location...boy what a stunning place...I love Scotland..have had many holidays there,particularly on the west coast...and Ilse of Skye which I'm in love with...😊

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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