One of the specialty gardens featured in our Teaching Herb Garden, located at Elm Bank in Wellesley, Massachusetts.
This introduction to Dye Garden Plants was written and reseached by Riekie Sluder, a member of The New England Unit of The Herb Society of America.
This introduction to the Dye Gaden was reseached and written by Riekie Sluder, a member of The New England Unit of The Herb Society of America. All rights reserved. Updated 4.06
The plants in the dye garden were chosen because they produce a rainbow of colors on wool. In general vegetable dyes give soft subtle colors. Usually the material to be dyed needs to be treated with a mordant to allow the dye to be absorbed. Common mordants are alum, chrome, copper and tin. Dying with vegetable matter is more of an art than a science. The actual dye color given by a plant can vary according to that particular growing season, fertility of the soil, part of plant used or time of harvest. Dyer's chamomile (Anthemis tinctoria) is a perennial that has a daisy like yellow flower that blooms in midsummer. It yields a yellow dye when used on wool that has been treated with alum. Dyer's woad (Isatus tinctoria) is a biennial that produces a yellow flower in the spring. Its leaves yield a blue dye. Madder (Rubia tinctoria) has an insignificant flower and a weed like appearance. Its roots yield a red dye to wool treated with alum.