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GROWING A NATURAL DYE GARDEN #2

Ellie Fisher All Blog Posts Natural Dye Garden

Weld plants growing in a pot

Image: My only two weld plants growing in a large pot

Due to the cold, everything has been rather slow on the growing front this year. I've been hovering over my sprawl of coreopsis plants for weeks, thinking they're going to burst into flower at any minute, and then finally, last week, the first flowers popped open, adding a very welcome, bright splash of golden yellow to the garden.

Coreopsis is really easy to grow and look after. You can read more about using it as a natural dye in Claudia's blog 'NATURALLY DYEING WITH DYER’S COREOPSIS (Coreopsis tinctoria)'

Coreopsis flower in the natural dye garden

Image: The first coreopsis flower of 2024

The first crop of flowers will be harvested on Wednesday morning for Claudia's 'Introduction to Natural Dyeing' workshop in Mere, Wiltshire this coming Saturday. A couple of last minute spaces have become available on this workshop, so if you'd like to join us this Saturday 29th of June for a day of learning how to dye your own yarns and fabric with plants, CLICK HERE and a 25% discount will be automatically applied at the checkout​.

Dad helping out in the school garden

Image: My wonderful dad (Nick) helping me out in the school garden

We've been so busy getting on top of the garden at Frank's school that I've rather left my own dye garden to do it's thing. Gardening Club started a few weeks ago. The school has six large raised beds and two large ponds, so loads of potential to be an incredible space for outdoor learning. Dad came in for a day to get on top of the ponds which were completely overgrown with iris. We've left some for the wildlife to hide in (there are frogs, newts and dragonfly larvae), and will be adding some new plants over the coming weeks.

Frog in the school pond

Image: Frog in the school pond

I've been grateful for the rain as I haven't had to do too much watering (all our water for the garden is collected from the studio roof), and most things seem to be doing well. I'm incredibly pleased that the only two weld plants I managed to germinate are looking really healthy and happy in the large pot I transferred them into, so keeping my fingers crossed for them!

Weld plant

Image: Weld plants

Most things... but not my poor madder plants! I was so happy that so many of my seeds germinated, and then failed to find a suitable planter for them. If not grown in the ground, madder needs a large, deep planter to allow the roots to spread, and takes three to four years for the roots to grow large enough for a good harvest. 

Young madder roots

Image: Young, pot bound madder roots

This problem was solved on Sunday when I was helping a friend clear their garden and they were getting rid of the perfect planter. It's enormous and was far too big to get out through the house, but luckily I had the truck with me and we were able to lift it over the garden fence onto the road. I fear it may be a little late to save the madder plants, but have transplanted them anyway, am hoping for the best, and now need to fill up the rest of this gargantuan planter with soil!

Madder plants

Image: Neglected madder in its new planter

 My indigo seems to be happy in both the pots and the ground, and the woad has just started to take off, though something has had a really good munch on several of the plants so they'll be a little sparse.

Growing indigo in pots

 Image: Indigo growing in pots

My dyers greenweed is also being munched. It has a lot of aphids on the young shoots which you can see in the image below. I remove the aphids by brushing them off into a pot with a paintbrush, and if they're really persistent a good spray of water.

Dyers greenweed

 Image: Dyers greenweed with aphids on the young shoots

 All in all, I'm thoroughly enjoying all aspects of the garden this year and looking forward to seeing what colour it brings! X



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