Today was a gardening day. I thought I'd share with you the full extent of my dye garden: one rambling madder plant
Last spring, I had exceedingly ambitious plans for a dye garden. I planted woad, lady's bedstraw, madder, kota, and dyer's coreopsis. Between the arid air, the harsh sun, and the insects, only a single madder plant made it to maturity.
But that one plant is thriving. It survived last summer and stayed green through the winter freezes, and it's been growing like mad (ha!) this spring and summer.
It's completely filled the whiskey barrel and is overflowing with spindly stalks and scratchy leaves. I must say, it's not a very appealing plant. But it makes my heart swell when I peek underneath the plant and see those ruddy roots, knowing that they'll one day be simmered up into a earthy brew of orange dye:
Madder plants need to be at least three years old before you can harvest them for the roots, so this plant has one more year to go. I'm trying to encourage the stems to set more roots by layering them under the soil here and there where they flop on the ground. With luck, I'll have madder for years to come!