Friday, August 1, 2014

The Dye Garden

This has been an outstanding summer for flowers here. We've gotten several July rains that we normally wouldn't be getting and the gardens look the best they've ever.  In addition to the extra rain, we also added in some extra fencing this spring to keep little black lambies and marauding sheep from pillaging plumes on those occasions that I leave a gate open or someone big and fat leans on the gate and breaks the hook. Hmmm, wonder who'd be fat and cunning enough to figure out something like that... ;-)

The garden was designed mostly for decoration, featuring as many different colors and varieties of natural dye plants as possible, but not really producing enough to harvest for more than just small samples. Originally there were some wool protecting plants included, too, but they've all been pushed out or relocated.  Black-eyed Susan and fennel are two plants that are pretty...but very pushy.  


I can't remember what the tall purple plant on the left hand side is and my dye books are up in the Wool House.  Maybe someone can jump in?  Whatever the tall purple spikey flower is, that's a winner for sure as it blooms and bloom and blooms, year after year.  I'd put it somewhere bigger next time though.  It would like (and deserves) a little more room.

As far as the other plants, I'm going to do my best to label them correctly and hope that someone can correct me if I'm wrong.  Regarding what colors they make when used to dye wool, it depends on what part of the plant is used, what's used to mordant...  There are several really nice books on natural dyeing and a ton of information on the internet.  I just like looking at the pretty flowers ;-).


Some purple coneflower getting over shadowed by the mystery purple plant.  Normally they'd be much taller, but they're doing the best they can under the purple power house.  I'll move them down towards the other end this fall.


We've had almost more bumble type bees than honey bees this spring and summer.  I'm not sure why.  The honey bees are working the white clover now, but usually they'd be all over these flowers and the lavender as well and they're not.  Very curious.


Black-eyed Susan


Yarrow


Looky looky!  Do you see it?


I think this is cat mint.  It too has bloomed and bloomed all spring and summer.  I guess I put it in for the cats, but this hummer likes it as well.  Borage in the back.  Another plant good for bees that blooms and blooms.


Hopefully you can click to biggify.  I think he or she was turning around in flight, checking out the big sunflower off to the left, just out of view.  I love seeing the hummingbirds working flowers.  I keep two feeders filled all the time, but they have plenty to chose from around the yard. They like the blanket flowers out front as well.


Another full(ish) view.  You can see the borage down by the garden shed.  That's where I spotted the hummer.


Fennel.  Lovely smell (just like licorice), but holy moly it's invasive.  Or at least around here it is.  I pull quite a bit and what gets left or keeps popping up adds some dark texture to the rest of the flowers...if you can keep it under control.


Marigolds.  Mine are late blooming this year, probably because I started them all from seeds rather than buying plants.  I think next year I'll set out some plants and add seeds around.  I never was a huge fan of marigolds until I started growing them.  What hard workers!


Tick seed?  It's tucked in by the water hydrant and it too blooms all summer even with Baaxter sticking his head through the fence and chomping them off when he was a baby.  Oh wait, he was chomping on the yellow coreopsis, but it too toughed it out and is still blooming and I missed getting a picture of them :-/. 


Zinnias.  Definitely a top five flower in my book.  If you look back at the first picture, the zinnias fill the entire raised bed on the right side of the brick walk way.  I'd put my whole yard in zinnias if I could.  Imagine, an entire yard full of bright colored blooms :-D.


Adjacent to the flower beds, the lavender.  I lost many many plants over the hard winter, but I've replanted and everything looks to be growing well.  I'm concerned that with the cool summer we are going to have another cold winter, so am trying to figure out a better way to over-winter everyone.  

Several of the losses were to be expected as they were "tender" varieties that had been gifted to me. Everything out there now is "hardy".  They are in raised beds and only lightly mulched with straw.  I've been told keeping the wind off them will be a big help.  Any thoughts?


And peering over the garden gate, my tomatoes and zucchini and off in the distance Julie's gladiolas :-).  The tomatoes on this side of the fence are the big ones and the single plant in the outside bed is a Coyote cherry tomato.  The tomatoes haven't loved this cool, wet weather.  I think the upcoming week will be more to their liking.

I missed a few plants on this garden tour and several are later in the summer bloomers, including the sunflowers, so I'll try to do an update in a few weeks.  I'm sure the grass won't still be spring green, but who knows.  It will still be pretty I'd bet.  Hard to believe it's the beginning of August already!  


30 comments:

Keechy said...

I enjoyed the tour, thank you! Borage one of my faves too. For the lavender I can only think of those long plastic tunnels, but snow, cold etc is not one of my areas of gardening expertise since I live in Oz and have never even seen it in real life!

The Dancing Donkey said...

I don't know about the flowers, but the honey bees are probably not coming around as much because of all the rain. It washes the necter away and they can't get at it. Bumble bees have longer tongues and can get into the bottom of the flowers where there will still be necter.

Jan baby said...

Awesome hummingbird pic! Love the variety of colors in the garden as well.

thingsherelately.com said...

Just beautiful! And a hummer! My favorite! :)

MarmePurl said...

Ah, a garden tour. One of life's greatest joys. Loved this.

Buttons said...

Oh how beautiful and to capture a hummer is amazing it sure does like the cat plant:) Beautiful just beautiful. Hug B

Tyche's Minder said...

Zinnias are one of my favorites too. I buy seeds EVERY year, but it's been a while since I had a chance to plant them. Lavender too. Would mulch plus a tarp over the plants help. That would keep them drier for the big freezes and they should be pretty drought tolerant. But then I don't really know. I've gotta post a pic of my garden. It will make everyone cringe. :)

Shelley said...

That lovely purple spiky mystery flower is Loose Strife. In Massachusetts it's an invasive 'wildflower'.

Ten years ago it was in Western Mass and is now found all over the state growing along the highways and in parks.
Yours seems to be well mannered and happy in its bed!!

thecrazysheeplady said...

Loose Strife - that's right! Maybe I chose wisely (accidentally) curtailing it in that corner ;-).

Valerie said...

What a beautiful spot and gorgeous photos. Love that spiky purple flower and black eyed susans are a favorite of mine. =) I just started a spot for lavender this year, it sure does smell lovely. I can't imagine why I haven't planted it before.
Blessings,
Valerie

Marcy Doane said...

What beautiful gardens you have. The whole farm is so gorgeous. Such a pleasure to see so much green and color compared to the drought we are having in California. Thanks for sharing!

thecrazysheeplady said...

Exactly my question here. I had no idea how much I would enjoy that lavender!

I need orange said...

Loose strife is gorgeous, but SO invasive when it gets into waterways. It crowds out all the natives........

Love your beautiful gardens, and share your affection for zinnias. :-)

LannieK said...

Your garden is so beautiful, Sara! Lavender and zinnas :-) I've grown them forever, but I am finding that at 7500' it is not working as well, so I will enjoy yours' from a far. Thanks for sharing!

Susan Mckee-Nugent said...

Nice, nice, nice! NEXT year...says she hopefully!! I did Nothing this year so your garden is a treat to see.

Lori Skoog said...

You have outdone yourself with these gardens Miss green thumb.

Terry said...

Love it! Your plants are so full. That's my biggest problem - I'm finally figuring out what will survive here, but it takes them forever (some never) to fill out.

Miha Giustina said...

It must be the variety of the fennel that you planted that is invasive. I grow bronze fennel and "wild" Italian fennel (green in color) and neither are invasive. They do grow to 8-9 feet tall though:-).

Both are perennials and come back year after year. Young fennel leaves make an excellent soup (with potatoes and beans added). Quite a common dish in Italy. The fennel I describe is grown for its finely dissected leaves and not the bulb.

Miha Giustina said...

The fennel in your picture looks like the bronze variety...

Dreaming said...

Oh, wow! Thanks for the tour. I love all of your flowers. I have Zinnias, too, but they haven't started to bloom yet - well, I am at 6200 feet! Do you start yours from seed? Do they reseed? Do you transplant seedlings?

Alice said...

Your flowers look heavenly!!! Love the hummingbird capture!!! You were quick with the finger on that one and you have a green thumb !!! Those other three fingers are for scritchin' the ears of sheepies.

Sheepmom said...

What a great tour! What a lot of hard work to keep everything so lovely. A whole bed of zinnias is a great idea! Who couldn't like zinnias?? Have you tried tunnel row covers on the lavendar? They might be just what you need during the worst cold months.

Tree Hugger - Suzan said...

Your flowers ARE lovely!!! Lots of pollen for the pollinators!!

I'm gonna tell Mom! said...

I have purple loosestrife in my gardens, too. I used it to dye some wool (without mordant) and got a beautiful, rich caramel color.
Your gardens are inspiring. Aren't we blessed by this weather?!
kim

steph said...

I loved the garden tour.....everything looks so lush and healthy! My poor garden is suffering once more from the heat, even though it's been far milder than our usual summers.
We're in the middle of the hummingbird migration, so my feeders and flowers are getting some love from them, too. Don't you love seeing all that flitting activity????

Michaele said...

Such beauty! I wish I could get lavender to grow like that. I would get in trouble if I planted Loose Strife here because it is an invasive species but it is beautiful. You described Marigolds correctly! Wonderful tour.

Kim Goodling said...

Ok...flower garden envy! Will you come help me put in a lovely flower bed like that at my farm?

karen said...

You have a spectacular garden, so lucky!! We've been tending our garden each year adding a bit here and there. Thanks for the tour!

Far Side of Fifty said...

Yes it is Purple Loosestrife or Lythrum salicaria. Banned in Minnesota and considered invasive. The Pioneers used to call it Summer Lilac, I grew it when we lived in North Dakota and I wished it spread but it did not it just made a larger clump every year. Your flowers are beautiful:) I overwintered Lavender just one winter, the year my brother moved some sand and completely covered it up.

Lisa W said...

Wow - looks so different than when I was there in mid-June! Just beautiful and I also love my hummers. Fennel is lovely for dyeing - I did some yarn with just alum as mordant and some with iron, and just love the colors. Plus the smell can't be beat if you love black licorice!

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