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A Dye Garden ~ Making a Plan

This post contains links to the web sites and local book stores where resources for planning a dye garden can be found. It contains no affiliate links or adds. However if you want to support my work, feel free to fuel me with a kofi.

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Okay then, what TO grow?


There are so many factors at play as we try to plan what to grow: target color, space available, hardiness zone, amount of plant material needed to make a dye bath... The list keeps going. Before I let myself just order ALLLL the seeds, I did a little planning.


What NOT to grow:

As we begin making a list of who we would like to invite into our garden this summer, its super important to double check who should NOT be invited because they refuse to stay put in the garden and can actually be damaging to our local ecosystems. Before ordering and planting seeds, please look into noxious weeds in your area. Many beautiful dye colors can be created with plants that are threatening to the local environment. If they grow wild in our area then: WHOOT! We can wild harvest as much as we please for our dye pots. However if they have been eradicated or are a threat, PLEASE don't introduce them via a dye garden! For more information regarding how to look into noxious weeds in your area, check out this blog post.


Okay then, what TO grow?

When attempting to answer this hugemungous question for myself, I started with two things: I looked up the hardiness zone for my area (you can learn more about that here) and I created a list of my target colors and plants I thought I could grow to attempt those colors in a dye bath. As I researched a bit more, I realized there was more I needed to know for each plant in order to figure out how I could bring them together into the garden space available. I began assembling information by asking these questions:

~What mordant is required? (you can learn more about mordant here)

~What is my target color?

~Which parts of plants are used?

~How much plant material is needed to dye 4 oz of wool?

~How much garden space is needed per plant?

~Will this plant grow happily in my zone?

~Can I access seeds or starts for this plant? Where?


To make my life easier, I created a template for myself to fill out for each plant. You can download a copy for yourself here for free by tapping the image of the first page.


If you are interested in seeing my final list from 2022, check out the blog post A Dye Garden ~ Planting a Rainbow.


But HOW did I know what would grow in my hardiness zone? HOW did I know what plants I could grow to try to get those colors? Books and websites -and I'm about to list them for you.



Books:

A Dyer's Garden by Rita Buchanan - The first dye book I ever had and still my main resource.

When possible I am linking the author's website or a shop that I have found supportive in the fiber community. Purchasing books from your local book store or directly from the author when possible is a great opportunity to support small business.


Websites:

The Woolery Blog has quite a few great articles. This one includes a comprehensive list of plants organized by color. It also includes a bit on mordants as well.

Botanical Color's Blog is wildly rich with information. It is a resource I find myself returning to again and again.

The Dogwood Dyer's Blog is endlessly inspiring. Although my dye journey is more focused on wool and the Dogwood Dyer often dyes fabric, I have learned so much about manipulating color with mordants while soaking up the beautiful photography. They offer workshops that I dream of taking one day.


Pinterest

Much of what I find online as I research for my own garden is saved to my Pinterest board, Dye Life. Click the image below to check it out and follow me on Pinterest to see what else I find in the future.


Have you dyed fiber with natural plant dyes before? I am learning right along with you and would love to know what your favorite resources are. Comment on this post and share what you have learned!

Happy Making! ~Sönna

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