Seasonally inspired things to Make, Learn & Do.


Peak Yellow - seasonal musings

spring time yellowI once worked with a woman who hated yellow.

Pathologically hated it. She couldn't bear seeing the colour - in books or paintings, clothes or flowers. She would physically cringe back.

I never understood that - for yellow is the colour of Spring, the days getting longer, things beginning to grow.

Yellow is the colour of the turn of the year when life begins again. It is the sharp promise before we tumble into the froth of late spring.

gorse loch lonond

The gorse is the first yellow - stumpy, spiky, punching its colour on the low slopes of the hills - it is an orange, yellow, almost neon in the sun. It speckles the verges all winter but explodes into abundance in April.

You can eat the flowers - and indeed they are so tightly clustered on the branches that they seem to be proffered to the travellers along the West Highland Way.

gorse loch lonond

Yesterday, walking on the hills above Loch Lomond, I saw that the primroses are coming out to add their paler yellow. They grow in big papery clumps around the rivers that hurtle down the slopes, huddled near the water they seem to like being splashed - adventurous bees buzz round them dodging the water.

pussy willow Loch lomond

I don't grow many yellow things in the main garden - they scream too much into the foreground for me - but I do love to encourage yellow in the margins.

airstream in orchardMy main garden is bounded with high beech and hornbeam hedges and then there are wide gaps between this enclosure and the fields, woods and streams that surround us.

In the orchard that links the drive and the workshop I have planted lots of daffodils and they are gradually spreading out under the plum trees. Some are bright, small, bright jewels of flowers, others pale ghosts.

airstream in orchard

In the autumn, inspired by some I saw at Perch Hill, I plan to scatter the yellow species tulip Tulips sylvestris amongst them. Perhaps I will add in some fritillaria meleagris, with as many of the yellowy white sports as I can afford.

Down in the damp meadow - an area of ground that land slipped into swamp a few years ago - there is another yellow.

The area is too wet to walk on and is becoming a natural haven - the heron swoops over to look for frogs, the newts remain undisturbed. I do not know what else goes on there but the barn owl sweeps over each evening.

In May the whole site will be carpeted in king cups - a perfect sheet of gold that I can see from above.

That will be the last of the yellow - the wild flowers will change their hues to pinks and purples and white and we move into another season.

I love this move of natural colours from season to season - a subliminal rhythm, a feeling of just right. This morning I saw a new bird on the bird table - from where I was it looked as bright as a budgie, a clear, bright yellow - exotic amongst the sparrows and blue tits. A yellow hammer. Perfect for the scene and season.


Comments: 2 (Add)

Elaine Scott on April 27 2018 at 12:32

I love spring yellows! I agree totally!
I also love when the blue starts to appear in May with the bluebells. Lovely post. x

Snapdragon Jane on April 27 2018 at 12:42

Thank you Elaine - I too am looking forward to the bluebells.
I was thinking that this really should be a regular thing looking at the way the dominant colours change through the year x

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