After having worked for the past years with garden trims, the so called “invasive” plants, foraged fibres or green waste, this is the first year that I grow a Fibre and Dye garden from seed. It all started in March choosing seeds for dye plants and plants for fibre. I had a stash of flax seeds from 2017 including some of the Marilyn variety I bought back then and some were daughter seeds from flax I grew at my friend’s property on Galiano island.
Our fibre garden includes nettles, flax and hemp and our dye plants include marigold, Japanese indigo, dyer’s chamomile, coreopsis, safflower, madder, and more. Some seeds I planted that never germinated included weld, amaranth and hollyhock as it was a very tricky year with a very delayed spring. This year everything was delayed by at least a month and I think this affected our germination rate for some seeds.
I have been tending nettle patches in the valley and transplanted some nettles from a patch next to a kid’s playground. Our nettles are now established at the Innisfree farm and liked having other fibre sisters like flax and hemp beside them as well as other plant friends like plantain, sheep’s sorrel, yellow dock and borage. The flax that I was supposed to plant at the end of March or early April, was planted in early May but thankfully, the germination rate was fantastic.
I have loved our family, friends and other student volunteer involvement in tending this garden that was planted with the intention of building community and generating many education opportunities around plants for textiles and colour. This place has become not only a source of learning, exploration, amazement and discovery for us but also a place that brings joy and has been the reason for hearts pouring out song, prayer, meditation and gratitude. I have received much more from this place than I anticipated.
Thanks to Chanchal and Thierry for letting m use a piece of the Innisfree farm for this project, for all the incredible support, advice and help with logistics, space and equipment to make this happen and to my family (Momo, Obi and Juan) and friends (Cora, Solara and Robin) for their ongoing support seeding, watering, transplanting, weeding, tending and sharing laughs, good conversations and delicious picnics in this very special place.