Seasonally inspired things to Make, Learn & 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

Between the plum trees and the studio is a sloping space that was created when we flattened a patch of land to build. It is a mix of subsoil, rocks and odd seams of rich pasture land. ⠀
As grass began to grow there about 7 years ago,  I sowed a perennial meadow mix, I planted lots of random plants from the cutting beds, I worked without a plan, without knowing what would thrive and what would gently vanish. ⠀
Now there is minimal gardening involvement - I try and keep the nettles from taking over, we dig out brambles - and in the autumn and winter I lure the chickens there to scratch out patches of bare soil for the wildflower seeds. ⠀
It’s a patchy space, caught on the cusp of abandonment - but it is the most beautiful space in the garden, buzzing with insects, rustling with birds. ⠀
Low light, bright petals, setting sun. ⠀
A couple of days ago I got a message from a friend asking what I thought about all the 'picking wild flowers' photos on here and the fact that a country style magazine was promoting it as a
My Gran had hangers like these.  Knitted from odds and ends of wool, hanging softly squashed together in the big dark wardrobe in her bedroom.⁠⠀
My cousin and I would take the fancy silky 1960s dresses from them and transform ourselves into glamorous detectives, spying on passers-by from behind the net curtains, making notes.⁠⠀
Now the hangers are my favourite things to make from wool scraps - each takes 37 grams of wool and you only need to be able to do a plain stitch to make it. ⁠⠀
As well as being chock full of nostalgia for me, they are also the most practical kind of hanger, as the garter stitch keeps even the flimsiest of straps in place so clothes don’t end up on the floor.
This week's business improvement was deciding to make the postcards that go in with orders more useful, getting Kate Stockwell to turn them into activity cards for me. ⁠⠀
This is the first, going out with orders from today.⁠⠀
I’m always amazed at how many plants from sunnier climes take to the garden. ⠀
Sicilian honey garlic - Nectaroscordum siculum - is one of the plants that grow in rows in the orchard - ghosts of the flower field, buzzing with bees, happy in grass, a strong whiff of onion as I pass. ⠀
This month I’ve been experimenting with solar dyeing- using plants and sunlight and a jar to dye wool on the windowsill. 
I was amazed at what bright shades were possible and at how easy and self contained it turned out to be. 
It was part of the Studio Membership mini “Introduction to plant dyes” course but I’ve also put together a kit in the shop with full instructions and everything you need to get started with solar dyeing wool (there are mini skeins in the kit). The photo is my drying rack on the dye deck - part of the studio where I used to prep flowers when I sold them. 
The wood rack used to be for shoes and wellies.
Inspired by @josephinepbrooks I’m still using this time for some serious decluttering of my business - looking hard at which parts have descended over the years into one of those drawers stuffed full of things.  Which bits are muddled, useless, impossible to open without everything falling out. 
Last week was the turn of the blog - so many out of date things, so many broken links, pretty much impossible to browse. 
Now it’s been sorted out - David and @fuzzyjill at Fuzzy Lime helped me divide it into sections and now it’s all easily accessible from the navigation bar.

So if you are looking for tutorials, nature notes, gardening, recipes or musings on life you can find them without scrolling through hundreds of pages. 
And - as always seems to happen when you  declutter - I’m suddenly full of ideas for things to write about, so that I can fit them nicely into my new space! 
The poppies are from Friday’s blog about how they make wonderful cut flowers.
Another week. Another new morning 
I was chatting to a friend yesterday about what was the best thing about running my own business - and I decided that it was probably being excited about each day and all the things I want to do. ⠀
That I now rarely need to force myself. ⠀

Today it’s finishing off this week’s Studio Members lesson about solar dyeing and putting together these activity postcards which I am getting printed to go out with orders. ⠀
What are you looking forward to doing today?

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