May 26: birthday of Stevie Nicks (1948), John Wayne (1907) and Dorothea Lange (1895). It’s also the date that Napoleon became King of Italy (1805) and Nicholas II the last Tsar of Russia (1896). Equally momentous for those who love it — though hopefully less ill fated than those last two events — the 2016 Janice Ford Memorial Dye Garden was planted. Flats of seedlings arrived from the Denver Botanic Gardens’ greenhouses, met by eager volunteers ready to plant them. On the 2016 inventory* are Japanese indigo, cota or Navajo tea, several species of cosmos and coreopsis, dyers broom, Hopi black dye sunflowers, French and African marigolds, black-eyed Susans, and zinneas. Black hollyhock, weld, yarrow, and madder survived the winter in style and are already growing well.
That old saying that many hands make light work proved its aptness once again as the garden was fully planted in just over three hours, with Mother Nature providing some extra watering throughout the afternoon. We’re a friendly group and it was good to share the experience on such a beautiful day.
As noted, the yarrow and weld are robust growers and boundary busters. We’ll be weeding them — and dyeing with them — soon!
* For anyone interested in the botanical names, here they are:
Japanese indigo: Polygoum tinctoria
Guatamalan indigo: Indigo suffruticosa (one brave little plant is trying out our climate)
Cota/Navajo tea: Thelesperma filifolium
Cosmic Yellow, Cosmic Orange, and Cosmic Red cosmos: Cosmos sulphureus
Dyers coreopsis and red coreopsis: Coreopsis tinctoria
Dyer’s broom: Genista tinctoria
Hopi black-dye sunflower: Helianthus annuus macrocarpus; Hopi name: Tceqa’ Qu’ Si
French marigold: Tagetes patula
African marigold: Tagetes erecta
Black-eyed Susan: Rudbeckia hirta
Zinnea: Zinnia elegans
Black hollyhock: Alcea rosea
Weld: Reseda luteola
Yarrow: Achillea millefolium
Madder: Rubia tinctoria