Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Mary Mary Quite Contrary

Oh why does it make me so absurdly happy to have this to play with:


Behold my new Dye Garden! I finally have room for the big things that take up so much garden space! Deluxe. What you are seeing there are the two madder buckets in back, baby woad in front and coreopsis further to the right. Yes, I know it doesn’t amount to much yet. And those poor hacked and chopped laurels look pretty nekkid right now, don’t they? Everything will fill in eventually. Probably too much! Plus I’ll be hunting for some more containers for madder so I can expand the collection this fall. They can’t be too nice though or they will go walkies so recycled and/or just plain ugly (like my old galvanised buckets) are perfect. Remember, this is outside my fence on public property so it’s not at all protected. Maybe I’m naive but I’m hoping the passersby will keep their dogs and kids out of it at least! Now I’m waiting on delivery of my Chinese woad and weld seeds in the post so they can go in the empty places. There will be red, orange, yellow and blue possibilities all in one spot. And T-Man won’t be sad anymore when I harvest them. See how kind he is to make me my own space?

I was kind of annoyed when I found one other plant that I should have ordered when I was getting seeds from Richters. Unfortunately I’m not going to bother with it this year or I’ll be back to the “P&H costs more than the seeds are worth” problem. Called dyer’s chamomile by some sources, it was listed as golden marguerite so I missed it. It’s a perennial and yet another good source of yellow. It would have been easier to locate if it had been listed under its Latin name Anthemis tinctoria. Just sayin’. That “tinctoria” is always a good sign of a dye plant! Over in Wales, the wonderfully inspirational Helen has an informative blog post here on dyer’s chamomile. Interesting that she says the dye components have not really been identified yet.

Helen also mentions that weld (Reseda luteola) and saw-wort (Serratula tinctoria) are more important as yellow dyestuffs – at least in Europe. I remember Dominique Cardon saying that saw-wort is her favourite yellow of all and I had never heard of it before. I can’t find a North American source for this one either. Possibly because it’s native to Europe and because the plants come in male and female and you need both to set seeds. It’s a pretty perennial that looks like a pink thistle but without the prickles. It grows in part shade too which would be ideal if I could find some. Am I going a little nuts on this? No. Don’t answer that.

Anyway, I was glad to see the rain today so I could get a rest from the gardening! The weather had been ideal for the last few days – warm and not too brightly sunny – so we couldn’t resist getting as much done as possible. My neck is a bit stiff from using the big shovel to haul out about half of the old bolting woad yesterday. We’ll let the rest flower until we need the space for planting. I think it’s pretty! That’s my excuse and I’m stickin’ to it. Anyhow, I have enough woad seeds so I don’t need any more this year so it will go to the compost before seed sets.

On the craft front, all I’ve gotten done is a little more on the Shamrock Cardi. I’ve got the shoulders stitched and am nearly done knitting and attaching the collar at the back neck. Then it’s on to the sleeves. This has taken quite awhile because I had to experiment some with how to attach the collar and it turned out that just sewing it on was the tidiest and most invisible way to go. I knit a bit and stitched a bit until I got to the centre back neck. I plan to try grafting the back neck seam. We’ll see how that goes on k2p2 ribbing!

I’ll leave you on a gardening note again with my beautiful peas:


1 comment:

yarnpiggy said...

Huzzah for a dedicated dye garden! I can't wait to hear about -- and see! -- the results. :o)