Friday, 6 July 2007

Dye plants - in photographs.

Here's a photo of my dye plant patch. As you can see, the Dyers Chamomile (yellow flowers) is thriving. It flowered most of the winter and after a brief rest, it's madly flowering again. I've had lovely bright clear yellow dye from this plant on wool pre-mordanted with alum (potassium aluminium sulphate)and cream of tartar (potassium hydrogen tartrate). I have heard a good green can be obtained by adding iron (ferrous sulphate) as an after mordant, but not tried this yet. As you can see, it's also a cheerful addition to the garden and lasts for a week or so as a cut flower.

I forget how many Dyers Chamomile plants you're looking at in that picture, we planted most of the seed packet, and they all grew. They were tidy little plants when they went into the garden, but a year on they are wonderfully large and straggly, tumbling about everywhere and needing trimming back from other plants. I've learnt that they are biennial, so I should collect seed this summer.

Also flowering nicely are the foxgloves. Trying them in the dyebath is a project for the weekend ahead, I've delayed because the bumblebees were enjoying them so much. I've been taking part in a survey of bumblebees in the garden this year through the British Trust for Ornithology's Garden Bird Watch, so I wanted the bees to have some benefit before I gathered the flowers in!

Between the Dyers Chamomile and the foxgloves is Golden Rod, not flowering yet, and at the front of the view there's a little group of Weld plants, too small to see. Hidden in the Dyers Chamomile are bronze fennel, rosemary and agrimony, while beyond it are madder, woad, more weld and broad leaf dock. If you look at the picture closely you might catch a glimpse of the towering teasel plants at the far end of the bed.

I understand that teasel's will give a yellow dye, but I'm growing them because of historical use in raising the nap on woollen cloth - and because they have a special geometrical beauty that has always fascinated me.

Here's a close up of that charming Dyers Chamomile:

I have learnt that many other plants around the garden that are useful for dyeing, some of them more often called "weeds". Now I've found I can get photos on my blog I shall take some more photos so you can share the results of my wool-dyeing experiments.

Having read this far you'll be thinking that I've fixed my problem with uploading photos - well, no, not exactly. I have established that I can't upload from my home computer to anywhere I tried - blogger, flickr, photobucket, yahoo groups. Whichever, I get messages about the connection being reset. It's probably because I use an unusual combination of operating system and web browser (Suse 9.1 plus Firefox I know lots of other people have similar problems as I've been through the blogger help pages and support group. I suspect a CGI script problem. I'm thoroughly fed up with sitting at computers this week, I have that bashing my head against a wall feeling.

What I've done is take the easiest route around the problem. I loaded my photos on a floppy disk and have called in to the local library to use one of their computers. As the old saying goes, where there's a will there's a way! Thank you to everyone who left encouraging comments after my first post. Having proved I can do this, I can concentrate on getting some interesting content prepared for next time.

1 comment:

Leigh said...

I envy your dye garden! Does the problem with pictures mean some sort of upgrade is due in the very near future?