Tuesday, April 25, 2006

What do you do?

Looking over my list of what I'd bought at Richter's Herbs, and how I'd broken it down into categories, it occurs to me to ask - what are your garden goals?

Are you growing for the Pretty?

Do you know, or want to learn, the use of medicinal herbs?

Are you a natural dyer crazy enough to risk the seriously invasive woad for that wonderful blue?

It doesn't have to be a crazy thing, it can be controlled. Or so I tell myself about the forget-me-nots and creeping charley and peppermint every darned year. But those are the previous home owners problems that I inherited. I'm choosing woad, and hopefully in a careful manner.

Anyway... is it a cooking thing? Growing veggies and herbs for your next meal? Or for sustainability?

Gods but Anti-V must want to kill me sometimes. Her Zone 4 climate and the esker running through her land makes gardening difficult, and she's passionate about cooking!

Maybe it's a Zen thing... the peace of gardening?

Or the pride of having bounty and knowing you've worked darn hard for it?

I'm in the 'all of the above category'. Though admittedly the dye plants and Pretty factor usually end up with top priority.

I'm hoping the dye plants will keep me busy through the next winter. :)


Sunday, April 23, 2006

Errrr... Hi! Still here.

Time to catch up a bit... it's been a busy week apparently. Thank you for the good wishes on my blogiversary.

Let's see now... Richter's Herbs, the visit. I should listen to my husband more often. He suggested that I call ahead, and ask to have some woad and weld plants ready for me. I didn't. They didn't have any available. I had to settle for seeds and I'm not all that good with seeds.

Climbing strawberries. Leopard Lily. Comfrey. Calendula. Rosemary. Madder. Purple Bush Basil. Pennyroyal. Lobelia. Chinese Rhubarb. Yellow Bedstraw. Valerian.

Dye Plants - Yellow Bedstraw, Madder, Calendula.
Medicinal - Comfrey, Calendua, Pennyroyal, Lobelia, Valerian.
Foodish - Climbing Strawberries, Rosemary, Purple Bush Basil, Chinese Rhubarb.
Pretty - Leopard Lily, Calendula, Purple Bush Basil, there may be more but I don't know yet. :)

In the Fiber world: Saxon Green (sort of*).
A passing glance at research says that Saxon Green is Weld overdye of Woad. Jo gave me the remains of her weld dyebath from FITP. I put a skein of alum mordanted lopi in, and left it overnight on the heating vent. There was a definite colour change but I wasn't entirely satisfied with the results - it was fairly mottled. I probably didn't sufficiently wet the wool before adding it.

Next step was to take a handful of fleece, previously dyed with chemical Indigo and throw it in the rubber tub on the heating vent. This stayed in for several days. I'd check it once in awhile and didn't notice any change happening in the wool. So I decided that perhaps it needed greater heat then the heating vent was providing.

I failed to notice that the dyebath itself was changing colour, until I dumped it in the dyepot to heat on the stove. "Oh" I say to myself "This could be interesting."
I also added the skein that had previously been dyed with weld, better saturated with water this time. Heated all of the above on a low simmer for about an hour, and then turned the heat off and left it overnight. Rinsed both throughly in the morning and got all excited.

What a pretty colour!

The skein on the left is the first exciting colour, and the skein on the right is the exhaust colour. I'm delighted with both.

I didn't get a picture of the handful of fleece.

I say "sort of" because while Indigo is the dye chemical in Woad, chemically formed Indigo is apparently a slightly different creature, and hence I 'sort of' have Saxon Green. Re-enactors get fussy about the details sometimes.

And on to the Gardens:

Not fully open daffodils, but still pretty.

Fully devoted to the sun..

Not quite open yet apricot blossoms.

Fritillaria Imperialis, "Aurora", also not quite open yet. But wow...tall. And Anti-V is right, the flowers are stinky.

Now, these things, on the other hand are very very tiny. Grape Muscari.

And finally, Lungwort. Surprisingly pretty. After it's done flowering, it's pretty unremarkable and looks a lot like Creeping Lanium.

There was a single lone squirrel-planted-on-the-far-side-of-the-yard tulip that has bloomed as well, but I didn't get a good picture of it. It's been raining all day and the one trip out I made to try was enough for me. I'll get more pics of tulips soon enough.

It's still really really early for some of these flowers. Very unseasonable warmth. As a human being, I'm loving it. As a gardener, it's worrying. How much of my garden is going to die in next week's predicted frost when the weather finally starts heading back to normal?


Thursday, April 20, 2006


It's my Blog-i-versary!

And I'm too busy and tired to write more!

Soon, I promise.

My first daffodils came out sometime today. It was dark by the time we came home, so I'll wait until tomorrow morning to take a picture, and will entertain y'all shortly thereafter.


Monday, April 17, 2006


Wow, comments! I love y'all. :) And it's so good to hear from other folks having fun in their gardens.

Anti-V sent this link along in email to confirm Nina's guess about the blue flower.


It's called Glory in the Snow. There's only one problem. I don't remember planting them, and I don't remember it being there in the years before so it isn't old homeowner plantings. And there's too many of them to have been squirrel'd in.

My memory is clearly starting to fail! Good thing I'm blogging much of it down.

More on the trip to Richters and family visits later.


Friday, April 14, 2006

Good Friday was...Good :)

I'm in a much better mood today. We got lots and lots done in the garden.

We found the oriental poppies and moved them out from behind the ecineachea and the yarrow. They were too short last year to be in that spot. I would have moved them last year when I decided they were in the wrong spot, but after waiting for them to finish blooming, and being distracted for a week - I couldn't find them. Swamped over by the yarrow.

Then we created a path between the two lilac bushes by removing (and potting or transplanting - no waste here!) several lilac babies, overcrowded tulip and crocus bulbs.

Here's the new pathway ...

And the potted lilacs, with a few other odd plants from the same area. We don't know what they are yet, but we put them in pots to find out.

This is a new (to us) type of crocus. We planted it last fall.

All of the other crocuses in the yard are white, yellow, and purple.

We planted two patches of peas in a square plot. The theory is we'll be adding a square oblesik for them to grow up on. I'll plant another row around the outside diameter of the squares in two weeks so there's an overlapping harvest. The oblesiks will be in place by then.

These are the first daffodils of the season. As you can see, they are having some trouble with the rose bush.

I think these are blue anemones. Please feel free to correct me if you think I'm wrong. The hubby and I aren't too sure.

Last, but not least...I'm really glad these friterillas came back. They up and died abruptly last year, and I was never sure why.

Of course, there was weeding. I have no pictures for that. There aren't enough pixels in the world to take pictures of all the little baby maple trees in the gardens.


Tomorrow, we're making the annual trip to the Richter's warehouse. We live close enough to make that easy, but they are also a great online seed and plant source. They have a whole lot of the odder herbs that one doesn't normally see in most nurseries - dyeplants like woad, weld, dyer's broom, alkanet and madder or medicinals like motherwort and allheal which are often considered noxious weeds and don't have a 'pretty' value like foxglove, valerian or yarrow.

Not that I know how to do more then grow the medicinals. Yet. Learning is on the list of things to do in my life someday.

So what are you doing in your garden lately?

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


I'm in a grumpy-ish mood.

Over a hundred visits to the last post and only one comment. I had almost given up in despair until Cyndy visited. I like Cyndy. :)

Yeah, I know, I shouldn't be so attached to getting comments. Oh well.

I guess we're all a little tired in the blog world at the moment. Even one of the most heavily traffic'ed blogs that I visit regularily is getting fewer and fewer comments lately.

We have a few new flowers in the garden, but I haven't taken pictures yet.

I think I'm tired on a profound level. We've been busy a lot for the last several weeks and it isn't going to stop any time soon. We've got the usual round of family visits to make this weekend.

All I want to do is curl up in my garden. Not that I have any planting to do until the last frost date, of course. :)

Oh well. Soon enough... the weekend after this one is free.


Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Forward Into the Past

Well, it's over for another year. Seems like it came and went so quickly.

This past weekend, my hubby and I ran our yearly conference on medieval history, called Forward Into the Past. If you want to see a list of the classes taught, you'll need to look in the History section, as the Man has updated the site already. Comments from the feedback forms will be up later.

I got a five-year pin for teaching. :)

These are the results of the class that I spearheaded on natural dyeing in history. There were 5 teachers, including myself. I collected the teachers and did the overall powerpoint presentation for the class. Each teacher brought a dyebath and spoke on their choice. It was kind of a combination of class and round table.

The yellow at the top is weld, to the left is sandalwood, to the right is brazilwood, and the purples at the bottom are alkanet.

This one is special - it's woad, in a urine bath. Sarah wanted to keep it separate for the squeamish. It's pretty amazing to watch it turn colour as it absorbs the oxygen. I'm going to do that successfully one day.

And despite the snow here tonight... there were a bunch of these lovely blooms out on sunday when I took Anti-V and Jo on a walk around the garden to see what is poking it's head out.

I'm sure there will be more soon enough. I love my garden!