A Tannin Source in the Dye Garden

7 Jun

When we moved to our current location, we faced a hard decision–whether or not to remove a Bradford Pear tree growing very close to the house.  There was some roof damage already because part of it had broken during a wind frenzy and had fallen on the house.  I knew nothing about the history of this tree (it’s a non-native invasive, cross-pollinating bugger) but hated the idea of cutting it down.  Nevertheless we did. And once it was gone, the space around it seemed to be a good place for my dye garden.

But I didn’t think about the tree roots–which of course are everywhere.  Nor did I factor in the life force of these roots and their will to live.  In the past I’ve just plucked off the new shoots and thrown them into the compost pile.  But a few days ago I thought I’d experiment with them.  Boiled up a batch in an aluminum pot, soaked a piece of silk in the bath overnight and was happy to see a salmon/peachy color the next day.  I took this one step further and dipped the piece in iron water and within a matter of minutes the silk was dark gray.  (Had only wanted to test half of the sample but the iron water migrated almost to the very end.)

The brew, the color sample dipped in iron water and now a brownish grew, and a scarf dyed with the brew but without an iron dip.  Happy to find a purpose for this tree that wants to keep giving!


And the dye garden where the tree still wants to be?  Now some pretty weld–

And the woad gone to seed.  (Didn’t realize the image was so blurry.)


And here, if you look closely, you’ll see wanna-be Bradford Pear sprouting up in the coreopsis patch.


6 Responses to “A Tannin Source in the Dye Garden”

  1. serendibeady1 June 7, 2017 at 11:23 am #

    I am so happy to have discovered your blog. Your passion for nature, your wonderful observations are a gift. Thank you!


  2. Anonymous June 7, 2017 at 2:13 pm #

    just love this, Patricia…..following instinct….curiosity….willingness…both you and the
    plant….this is GREAT.


  3. Aviva Leigh June 8, 2017 at 1:55 pm #

    I think the picture you posted of woad gone to see is actually weld…genista tinctoria!


    • Patricia June 8, 2017 at 2:06 pm #

      Hi Avila. Perhaps the captions were confusing. The
      woad and its seeds are in the 2nd picture from the bottom


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