Doroth Mayer

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Four Seasons of Inspiration

No matter the season, my gardens inspire me—and for at least three seasons, are an abundant resource for natural dyeing and eco-printing. I started gardening 35 years ago just because I loved it. Growing up in the Dakotas with farming as my heritage, planting a small urban garden was a logical hobby choice after buying my home in south Minneapolis. I planted raspberries and some vegetables—just like back home.

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Then I got interested in the environment and the garden grew. ¾ of the back yard was tilled and planted—but this time with “natives.” As the years passed and I learned about natural dyeing and eco-printing, even more grass disappeared and gardens evolved. Now, while most of what is intended for dyeing is still “native,” some plants/flowers found in traditional gardens have been added—like hibiscus which makes gorgeous prints. (I’ll be finding room for several more hibiscus plants this spring.) The southside of the house is now home to several varieties of day lilies. Most of the front yard is planted—even the boulevard. There are two smoke trees, sumac (unfortunately the kind that doesn’t dye), wild roses, and other “natives” blended with traditional favorites like zinnias, marigolds, and cosmos. During three seasons, I can just walk out the door and collect what I need to dye or eco-print. There’s also plenty to share.

And winter? It just snowed and the entire yard is colored in hues of brown and gold with snow glistening as if sprinkled with diamonds. Good for dyeing? No. But still an inspiration!

What’s your garden story? Please share.

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