What Is A Dyer's GardenA unique and useful herb garden is a dyer's garden. Dyeing your own fabrics, yarns and reeds for basket making is not only fun, it is useful. All of the plants listed here were chosen for their familiarity and availability in most regions of the US. Either roots or aerial parts are used. Take note of which parts you will be harvesting and be certain that their locale allows you to take them without injuring any other herbs.
To create dyes from herbs, you usually add a mordant. A mordant is an ingredient that binds the dye to the material you are dyeing. Different mordants produce different colors using the same plant materials so your range of colors differs based on which one you choose. Some mordants are alum,iron, tin and vinegar. It is a good idea to read more about dyeing and making your own dyes. There will be time to do that while you dyer's garden is growing!
Here are some herbs that are used in natural dyes.
What Herbs Make Good Dyestuff?
- Dandelion root : Dandelion root turns wool magenta when alum is used as the mordant. Using tin and vinegar mordant results in purple wool and yellow is the color when no mordant is added. The flowers also yield a yellow dye.
- Marigold (Tagetes) : Marigold dyes a yellow-gold color; alum mordant gives lighter shades and iron gives darker ones.
- Calendula : Calendula infusion yields a pale yellow dye.
- Oxeye daisy : Oxeye daisy blooms give shades of yellow using an alum mordant.
- Nettle : Nettle gives a greenish yellow dye using the aerial parts in an infusion and an alum mordant.
- Plantain : Plantain gives a yellow/green dye when using an infusion and an alum mordant.
- Dock root : Dock root gives a bright yellow color.
- St. John's wort : St. John's wort gives a red dye using a tin/vinegar mordant.
- Goldenrod : Goldenrod used to be quite popular as dyestuff. It yields a yellowish tan using alum; gold with chrome and green with iron mordants. Using the flowering tops, be sure to use fresh not dried.