7. In and around the Dye Garden

I have finally planted the dye garden. It’s not quite dog and deer-proof yet, but I couldn’t delay any longer. At each end of the long terrace, I pounded in some rebar and wove plastic netting over to dissuade mammals.

For the deer, who it is said are repelled by lavender or other strong-smelling herbs, I planted three lavender plants at each end and in the indigo bed.

I consider indigo, woad and madder to be my most valuable dye plants – their colourfast blues (indigo and woad) and orange-reds (madder, after a 3-year growth period) are the most difficult natural dye colours to achieve. Yellows and golds (most dye plants, such as osage-orange, marigold and coreopsis) are easier to find and grow.Also in the dye garden I have planted a sumac tree (in a large pot to control its spread), stinging nettle, tansy, Our Lady’s Bedstraw, Elecampane, and chamomile.

To dissuade slugs, I made a border of coffee grounds and black lava rock around the bed and around each seedling that I transplanted.

Slugs don't like to crawl over lava rock around this Indigo seedling.

Nearby, around the stone steps, Jordan the WWOOFer removed weeds (mostly horsetail), dug out little depressions, covered them with landscape cloth and Salish Soil, then planted the creeping thyme seedlings and seeds, so that thyme will spread out to soften all those hard edges.Selfishly, for me, this Victoria Day rain couldn’t have come at a better time for my seeds. It means I don’t have to hand-water the little guys.

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