• sharing seasons

    Beekeeping, Garden • Sep 9th, 2018

    I’m sometimes bereft of inspiration which is why I thought I’d tell you about the collaborative project I turned to when I hit a slump last winter. It was at the very first Creative Countryside Gathering where I met lots of creative folk including Heather Borkowski, a herbalist and plant whisperer now living in Scotland and we are doing a natural living project together called Sharing Seasons; it has me trying out botanical dyeing, planting prairie crops and reading about how we could and should reconnect with the natural world. We’ve documented our collaboration in an article with photos of the dyeing project which will be published in the Creative Countryside magazine issue 5 which you can order on their website.

    Using plants as dye stuff is such a revelation and has time as its main ingredient which makes it a very relaxing thing to get into. I’m chasing a deep, warm grey on linen at the moment and have come closest with the flowers of Spanish broom which I collected in May. I have plans for napkins and notebook covers. I found an end of bolt piece of natural linen at The Cloth Shop in Portobello Road which I’ve put aside for autumn. At the moment I’m dyeing wool which takes up colour much more easily than plant based material and I’m hoping to post a very simple pattern for a winter gift to enjoy.

    Heather gave me the idea of planting for pollinators when we chatted about oil seed rape and how these flowers are a magnet for honey bees. By planting buckwheat and quinoa and phacelia we’re providing the same attraction but our plants are organic which makes me much happier about the honey I collect from my hives. I’ve started small to learn the ways of these plants and have sown seed in large containers to move near my hives when they flower. The quinoa was slow to come up but the others germinated quickly and did their thing. Phacelia flowers are such a pretty blue and fill spaces very quickly. I’ve now done a second sowing which should yield more flowers this month.

    We also share reading.  Our second book is Tove Jansson’s The Summer Book which I’ve found quite magical in this summer’s wonderful heatwave. We dipped into Braiding Sweetgrass earlier on, a wonderful read with so many signposts for plants and our ecology. I’m thinking of putting together some quotes to share maybe in November and December when we’re feeling pressurised into buying many things we don’t need. We’re about to start something new for September which I’ll tell you about very soon.


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