Spring Planting for an Eco-Dyer’s Garden

I’m a self-taught eco-dyer, and I have an ever-evolving urban wild flower garden in the Powderhorn neighborhood in south Minneapolis. From years of ordering plants and seeds (Growing a Dyer’s Garden), garden suppliers have figured out they have a sucker (they obviously share mailing lists!). My mailbox is full of catalogs and special offers—three just today. They’re great fun to look at but provide far more options than my urban yard has room for. Flowers

So what’s my gardening strategy this year? It’s three parts. First, I’ll nurture the plants that dye/print well. For example, the day lilies, ladies bedstraw, elecampane, and madder. (The madder is now 3 years old and I can start digging the roots and making dye.) Second, I’ll plant more of what I’ve had the best luck with in past years. For example, more marigolds; this year 3 kinds, African, French, and Mexican. Also, more hollyhocks, zinnias, and cosmos. Finally, through the generosity of others last summer, I was able to experiment with some plants—like hibiscus—and I’ve used catalogs to pre-order 3 hibiscus plants. This week, it was also time for a trip to my favorite garden store, Mother Earth. Got potting soil and seeds and planted some flats. Now, just days later, little green stems are reaching for the sun. Joy!

Do you have a dyer’s garden? What are your favorite plants? Please share!

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