a fresh new start

I want to give this blog a second chance. I’m starting over after an absence of a couple of years. I´ve had some health issues (I´m fine now), a couple of french lockdowns and a 1000 km far move. (from Brittany France to Wallonia Belgium). I left fb (the best thing I did this year) so I have now more time to do some blogging again.

Making dyes from plants is still a big passion, but because of my move I also lost my dye garden. At my new place I need to start my garden all over again and give every plant a new place. I collected lots of seeds from my old place but it will take months before I can harvest some materials. In the meantime, I will post some pictures from the last couple of years (mostly from my instagram). It will just be some impressions, a kind of photo book of the stuff that inspired me back then and it will not really be technical or with much explanation, that will come later.

Some dyeplants from my former garden…

Dyer’s chamomile. The first harvest of summer. The brightness of the flowers is simply amazing.

Colours in the garden

Sweet coneflowers (Rudbeckia subtomentosa) with tiny white spider. The flowers give an orange-yellow dye and the leaves and stems should give an olive green dye. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough plant material to test them. So I’m hoping for lots of seeds. I’ll have to wait another year. The flowers are truly beautiful. Pure gold.

sunflowers Hopi black dye
Helianthus annuus

These are Hopi black dye sunflowers.
This traditional variety has been used by the Hopi Native American people for dyeing cotton and wool and other fibers used to make their basketry. Colors derived include maroon-red, deep maroon, dark purple, deep lavender, medium blue and black. The yellow petals were transformed to make a body paint for use in ceremonies including women’s basket dances which are usualy associated with the initiation of fourteen-year-old girls into their own women’s societies.

Eerie bedeguar emerging from the eglantine bush.

A bedeguar, from french bédégar – from persian bād-āwar meaning ‘rose-wind-blow’, is a gall made by a little wasp called Diplolepis rosea. It grows on roses.
This gall contains lots of tannins, which is why it was used to stop bleeding. A dark brown ink was made with it, adding some iron sulfate to it’s juice. It was also called ‘sleep apple’ in France, because it had a reputation of helping to sleep better and to have foretelling dreams. Hydrolate or distilled water made from the bedeguar gall was used to heal eye diseases.
It’s a young one, it will turn red in time.
Eglantine or sweet briar is a apple-like fragance species of rose native to Europe. From french ‘églantier’. Rosa rubiginosa.

Drying flowers from my garden. For ink or dye or maybe for herbal tea. Sometimes I use them as food coloring as well, to be more precise, as mead coloring, especially with the purple ones (yep purple mead). I prefer to dry them first as the colours are more concentrated this way.

And it’s a test, because if they loose colour while drying they will not be very colourfast either when used as dyes.

Freshly picked evening-primrose floers
a pale yellow dye can be made with them

Rose is a rose, is also a colour, a fragance, a romance.

I gather the petals only when they are ready to fall. I try to do that with all the flowers I gather for colour or smell. So that they can live their life cycle in peace.
I suddenly realise that one of the ways to communicate with plants is trough smell. And if I can smell Rose, she can smell me too. We tell each other things. Important things, funny things. If she don’t like how I smell, she will not speak to me. And she will not offer me her colour. It’s as simple as that.

See you soon…