Wouldn’t it be nice to have a Dye Plant Garden next to our Guild rooms? It would catch the attention of local gardeners and passers-by. We could show off our wealth of experience and share with other craftspeople the skill of transforming wool and cotton fibres with strong and rich colours.
Alas! Who knows if the chance will ever come up.
Why not, instead, start up a Virtual Garden? Here we are, all across Sydney, Greater Sydney and beyond, with plants growing in our gardens that we use – or have experimented with! Imagine if we could list all our plants – if we could produce a map showing all the suburbs and municipalities where we grow dye plants – a huge footprint for the Guild.
Here in Lane Cove, on our plot, we grow turmeric. This was used by Buddhist monks to dye their robes – not a very long-lived dye, but each year when the Southeast Asian monsoons kept monks and nuns confined to their monasteries, they took the time to re-dye their robes so they had fresh colour for the new season’s pilgrimages.
Also growing in Lane Cove – self-sown, and largely written off as a weed – is fumitory. Historical accounts tell me it was used by the ancient Romans as a yellow dye for wool. Has anyone tried it?
Which suburb do you live in, and what have dye plants you grown? Email Wendy and she’ll compile a map for the Guild Dye Plants Virtual Garden.