July and August in the dye garden have been busy and exciting because the garden is blooming! July was a hot month with a heatwave sweeping through North Wales and this was made more difficult by the fact that we have had trouble getting our water tanks sorted. For various reasons water butts are in short supply this year around the UK. Can you believe it no water in North Wales! Am sure I won’t be saying that every dye garden season. However, after a series of searches we finally found some used IBC containers located on Anglesey that were previously used for food. Keeping with our re-use approach, these have become our perfect water storage containers for the dye garden. In July they were delivered and in August we were able to hook them up and final get some water storage. In the images below you can see the white IBC 'cubes' for our water storage.
The plants are really thriving despite the changes in weather. The Calendula came in to bloom first, soon followed by the Coreopsis. Alongside these the Cosmos and the Japanese Indigo are also really happy in the beds. With all the marvellous blooms we have started to cut and collect, on a weekly basis. The plants are growing quickly in our manure rich soil.
Recognisable changes aside from the plants is the new insect population including bees and butterflies. We are planting insect friendly plants as well as dye plants but it seems like their real preference in the Calendula. Once harvested we are drying the blooms to store as many of them as possible. Some have been used for fresh dye sampling [yes! we are dyeing fibre] but we are also finding the the dried blooms are equally if not more effective then the fresh blooms. The result of all our cutting is a weekly drying rotation to dry and save all the flowers. We are finding that the dried flowers are equally if not better for colour in our sampling which has been for both fresh and dried dye stuff.
We are working hard to prepare opportunities for you to experience the possibilities of dyeing with natural materials. As we navigate our way through growing the plants we are also learning to work with the more unfamiliar plants like Japanese Indigo. Although we are confidently producing a range of yellows and will be hosting a natural dyeing workshop at the end of August for those wanted to start experimenting and understanding the potential of natural dye materials. 'Yellow' is our first workshop of this type.
As we keep moving forward we will be working towards some autumn planting. This will include more dye plants like Dyer's Greenweed and Rubeckia. These plants will continue to widen our opportunities for dyeing as they grow as perennial plants and shrubs in our garden. We are always grateful to those who have supported us through this journey and we continue to do so as we move in to the second half of the year. Diolch yn fawr.