A dye garden

Last year I planted seeds of woad, weld and dyer’s coreopsis but none of them germinated. I have no idea why. This year I decided to try again with last year’s seeds. To my surprise and joy, everything has started growing.

Woad, Isatis tinctoria, has a history at least as old as that of ancient Egypt as a source of blue dye. Blue is a very rare colour among plants. Woad contains the same chemical as the indigo plant but it is not as strong.

Weld, Reseda luteola, along with woad and madder, was one of the most important plants for traditional dyeing in Europe . It gives a yellow dye and if overdyed with woad, weld dyed fibre will be gree.

Dyer’s coreopsis, Coreopsis tinctoria, also gives yellow.

I also was given seeds for Japanese Indigo, Polygonum tinctorium, from a friend who has had great success growing and dyeing with it.

Woad, weld and Japanese indigo seedlings

Woad, weld and Japanese indigo seedlings