Sunday, 12 June 2011

Dye Garden

Weld elderflower dyers chamomile and mullein
Dye Plants
Mullein in a nearby hedgerow- I have never seen one there before . I hope it can flower and seed before the dreaded council hedge trimmer comes along.
mullein moth caterpillars on the mullein
Ignore the lupins and grass.!  Dye plants  are Weld ( Reseda Luteola) Dyers Chamomile ( Anthenis tinctoria) about to come into flower.  Elderflower (Sambucus  nigra)  and to the right and back Mullein (Vebascum thapsus). This is a native plant but although we have been growing it in the garden now for three  years I was very surprised (and pleased) to find it in the hedgerow where I walk my dog not 1/4 mile form the house.  Could it have spread from me I wonder.? Mullein is also home to the mullein moth and the other day we found ours crawling with the stripy caterpillars. The following day there was nothing, absolute nothing!  Had they all been  eaten by hungry birds we wondered.
I have dyed with mullein leaves and copper and got a very nice green which after a year  in the solar pot and a month exposed to light has not faded.


  1. why ignore the lupins? I am not sure that pink lupins dye, but the blue flowered wild ones do.... unfortunately I can't find any over here and my one batch I grew from seed suffered so badly from greedy slugs that they never recovered:((
    my weld - doesn't want to grow apparently, I think it would like a bit less rain and a bit more warmth:)) it probably thinks that 10 dec. C means it's still winter:))

  2. Hi Bettina I did not know that thanks for the info.
    AS to weld I find it surprising after all we have very similar climate but perhaps it so the combination of water and cold.

  3. Hi, Helen
    I've gotten chartreuse from lupines and alum/C of T on wool and on silk. Mullein has tannin in the leaves and H. Bomer reports that in Turkey they get a strong black by using Mullein with iron. Both lupines and mullein have toxic alkaloids so if you simmer them, rather than solar dye, do so in a well ventilated area. (speaking from experience).

    I enjoy your blog.

  4. Hi Chris Many thanks for that information. Very useful and I had not realised that the mullein is high in tannin. best wishes helen