In the past I have used wild flowers and flowers that randomly entered my garden to dye when I could. My mantra has been, "I wonder what colour that makes". This year we planted a real dye garden.
Isobel Mowbray drafted the design with the plants we knew would grow here, those that weren't invasive,and those that wouldn't have the neighbours complaining. She wanted something attractive as well as useful and wove non-dye plants into the plan. It was important to both of us that the garden be as ecologically friendly as possible... and so now we have tiny milkweed plants in hopes of monarch butterflies in the future. Isobel chose both groundcover and tall plants, early bloomers and late bloomers. Some were started from seed. Some were available at local garden centres. It's only in its first year but it's already blooming and beautiful.
Most of the plants I'll be able to harvest this year (woad and weld), but some are going to be years in the making (madder and baptisia). I'm hoping to update this page as things get made into beautiful colours. Below are some galleries of the plants and, where they've been turned into dyes, some of the results of our labour.
Looks like there will be flowers the first year
Weld from seed
The madder seedlings had really impressive roots even at the time of transplanting
It will be five years before the roots are ready to harvest for dye
2018 grown from seed
There is so little indogin in the plant, I haven't used it yet
Didn't take many flowers to produce a yellow/orange dye
Coreopsis and alum
Perennial coreopsis. Only took the deadheads for the dye.