A Look at the Natural Dye Garden in May

Ecrit par [email protected] le 16 mai 2011 sous Natural Dye Plants

A quick look at the dye garden on a dry May day. It hasn't rained here for weeks. The Cosmos and Coreopsis are waiting to be planted out, they are big enough already but with no rain in sight. I don't want to risk losing them.

The mass of fluffy foliage in the image below is the two woad plants I left to go to seed when I took the rest out earlier in the spring, the yellow flowers are almost gone and the tear-drop seeds are still this light fresh green that would look spectacular on a skein of wool.. later they will turn to purple, like dragon's tears.

Woad plants

The row of little woad plants in front are not the ones I have sown at the end of March, they are out of view and only about 2 inches high at present. No these woad plants in front have sprung from the side roots of last years plants that were removed earlier.

Woad sprouts

These are not showing any sign of going to seed at present, not even in this dry weather so I fully expect them to yield up their blue pigment in a month or two. What with those and the new woad seedlings we will have plenty of woad for our needs this summer, including both workshops and Blue Day at the beginning of September.

The next photo is of three dye plants snuggling up together, Calendula in the foreground which gives such wonderful oranges and yellows, Dyer's Camomile just behind it and Madder in the background.


The Dyers Camomile is just on the point of opening its yellow button buds to show the yellow daisy like flowers that give a clear ringing yellow dye, not quite as light-fast as weld but what a pure lemon yellow that is. This is the perfect time to give the plant a good hard prune, separating the young flowers from the leaves that can be used to dye a gorgeous green, not often seen. The flowers can be used fresh or frozen or dried for later use.


The pruned bush will grow again to give you another harvest this year.. maybe two and also a pruned Dyers Camomile bush stays healthier than those that are allowed to run to seed which often die ( with an "i" instead of a "y" ), acting like a biennial rather than a perennial.

Pop back in a day or two and you can see some yarn dyed with the Dyers Camomile leaves, or better still sign up to the last place available on the Natural Dye Garden Workshop in August and you can do it yourself!

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