ROADSIDE WILDFLOWER DYEING

Like many of us, I mourn the end of summer. I love all seasons, but leaving oceanside living and watching the days get shorter is a bittersweet time.

This is what’s so beautiful about having a natural dye practice.

Working with fresh plants as dyes is a way for me to savor the seasons as they pass. I’m never too distracted to miss which wildflowers are blooming. Dyeing a new scarf with late summer flowers becomes my journal entry for that time.

In goldenrod season, which is ending soon, my neighbors are used to seeing me on my bike, roaming from patch to patch, clipping stems on the roadside.

I only take 10% of a patch at most, leaving as much as I can for the bees. I also search for the freshest blooms, passing over anything that’s already turning brown. It makes my bike ride longer, but I don’t mind.

Time is spent avoiding poison ivy, too, of course! bike with foraged goldenrod in the basket

Goldenrod, or solidago, grows wild throughout eastern North America. Some consider it a weed, but for many cultures, it’s a symbol of the sun, prosperity, and happiness.

It sprinkles yellow wherever it grows, returns year after year, and is a favorite of pollinators and butterflies. It’s dye is so richly pigmented; from flower to leaf, it’s a joy to work with. 

There’s a special variety of seaside goldenrod that grows here on the coast of Connecticut that I love. But goldenrod isn’t the only dye flower growing in late summer. 

I also collect tansy (pictured above) and Queen Anne’s lace this time of year. My neighbors drop off fistfuls of them into a bucket on my porch. 

I bundle-dyed a little batch of bandanas with this year’s flowers. They’re in the shop, but if you’re inspired to try it yourself, I have mordanted ready-to-dye bandanas for you, too. Each natural dye kit comes with bundle and solar dye instructions. 

There are more foraging seasons around the corner, including black walnut. I’ll share foraging tips so you can dye along with me. It can become a season ritual we share.

— Anne-Marie

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