Oklahoma is derived from the Choctaw Indian words "okla" meaning people and "humma" meaning red. Oklahoma is my home. Tinctoria is Latin, meaning to dye or color things; this is my work.

14 July 2010

Seed to Skein 2010 Dye Garden Project, Part VII

Healthy Weld Plant, 2010.

Part VII:  Weld Rescue

The Weld, Reseda luteola, has been struggling since mid-June. On the 4th of July I executed a Weld Rescue Program and I am keeping my hopes up that the plants will recover in their new home and live successful lives in my wild garden in the country. Maybe I’m dreaming but it was either that or sure death.

Weld in 4" pot, mid-May, 2010.

Weld mulched, lower garden bed, 2010.

Weld likes sandy and rocky soil. At our home the soil is a clay loam. Although I  know better than to go against a plants preferences, I still could not resist trying Weld in this hot Oklahoma clay soil which is rich in nutrients. I chose two different garden beds, one with a little more shade than the other. In 4” pots they looked bright and healthy. After transplanting into the ground they looked healthy and strong. But, by mid-June I began to notice the Weld plants in the lower bed turning yellow, wilting, and dyeing one by one.

Weld from happy to stressed, 2010.

Oklahoma summers are usually very hot, humid, with little rain. This summer the temperatures have barely peaked into the 90’s but the humidity is sweltering and we feel like we live in a fish bowl. It has also rained a considerable amount. Everything is damp. First I attributed the sad looking Weld to too much water and hoped that it would recover after it had a chance to dry out a bit. The problem is that clay soil does not drain quickly like sandy rocky soil drains. And then it just kept raining.

After loosing the entire lower bed, about 18 plants, I decided it was time for an intervention. I was noticing the same symptoms just beginning so I dug up the remaining plants in the upper bed, about 8 total and transplanted them to my “wild country garden”. For me this is my old garden ground, made up of good sandy soil that has been amended with compost and straw over the years and it is full of earthworms.

Weld from top to bottom,

Although Weld does not like to be moved after its taproot has developed, I gently lifted them out of the clay soil, took pictures of the roots, and drove to my “wild country garden”, cleared a garden spot on a semi shaded slope and placed them gently into the sandy rich loam soil. It rained for the next three days, giving them a chance to recover from the move and from their struggle to survive.

Weld in new garden bed,
day of transplant, 2010.

Weld, one week after transplant, 2010.

Weld, lifting up from its center, 2010.

One week later there are two plants that have especially perked up in the middle, lifting themselves up while the larger leaves have died back. I hope that the better drainage from the sandy soil will be better for them and that it will not be so difficult for the tap root to push itself downward, creating a stronger root. 

Wish them luck!

08 July 2010

Seed to Skein 2010 Dye Garden Project, Part VI

Hopi Dye Sunflower, 2010.

“The first purpose of a garden is to give happiness and repose of mind.”

Part VI: First Flowers

First flowers seem to always have wonder and surprise. They are full of promise and stunning in their complexity.

Tagetes patula bud, 2010.

Tagetes patula flower and bud, 2010.

The first Marigold, Tagetes patula, bloomed at the very end of May. It is now a daily habit to collect the flowers and place them on a drying rack in my  studio.

Calendula bud, 2010.

Calendula plant, 2010.

Calendula is a new plant for me to grow. I only have about a half dozen plants but I am drying the flowers as I pick them. This may be a slow accumulation for natural color but I really like the flowers.

Coreopsis flower and buds, 2010.

Coreopsis grandiflora was quite prolific throughout the Spring. I cut about half of the plant back around the end of May in hopes that it will be able to make another round of flowers. As I collected these Coreopsis flowers I placed them in a plastic bag in the freezer to use later.

Dahlia plant with flowers opening, 2010.

Open Dahlia flower, 2010.

There are only two Dahlia plants that germinated from my mixed Dahlia species (old seed) and they are both yellow. But they seem to be quite happy and they are producing a number of flowers.

Hopi Dye Sunflower, giant bud, 2010.

One Hopi Sunflower, Helianthus, is well over 12’ tall! I  had to stand on the roof to get a view of the top of this flower head. Other Hopi Sunflowers are not quite as far along as this giant. They are such cheery flowers.

Rubia tinctoria flowers and berries 2010.

To my surprise the Rubia tinctoria, Madder, is making flowers and berries during its first year. It is a perennial and appears to be becoming happily established. The flowers are yellow and they are very tiny and some of the berries are starting to form.

Zinnia flower, 2010.

The Zinnias are just starting to open. There should be a mix of colors coming on soon.

Verbascum thaspus flowers, 2010.

The great Mullein, Verbascum thaspus, that I  transplanted into our little porch garden last year, shot up its stock the beginning of May. The little five petaled yellow flowers are sweet. Although I did not plant Mullein as part of the Seed to Skein 2010 Dye Garden Project, it is a favorite garden and dye plant. They are quite abundant in Oklahoma.

Coreopsis tinctoria flowers, 2010.

We discovered a magnificent field of Coreopsis tinctoria just off the highway. I have included these June bloomers because they make a beautiful orangy color and they are an abundant wildflower in Oklahoma.