Plants of the Subasio

Second post from Assisi and the mountainous terrain that is the Subasio in the “Green Heart” of Italy.

After settling in last week and waiting for the heavy rains to pass (much needed rain, though), I have started checking out the dye potential of plants of Mount Subasio. There are three levels of vegetation on the slopes of the mountain: at the lowest eleveation, in the valley and a little way up, we see lots of olive groves and vinyards, along with fruit trees like peach and quince. The middle level is home to deciduous trees and bushes such as European varieties of oak, alder, dogwood, maple, hawthorn, elder, walnut and birch. Up at the top ( well over 700 meters up), we find Cedars of Lebanon (first seen here in the Botanical Garden of Pisa in 1628), a kind of Douglas Fir ( a well-adapted, non-native introduction from North America ) and various tough pines. ALL are possibilities for the dye-print steaming vessel!

Besides cotton rag paper, some vintage cotton sheets from the residence will make their way into the dye pot. (… and more later on such domestic things: I am planning to devote a few posts to the exquisitely simple yet rustically- elegant architecture and furnishings of the Arte Studio Ginestre: salvaged materials – from family chests and country properties, from woods and scrapyards, uncontrived yet styled…dear Reader, Architectural Digect could learn a thing or two about Italian Country from the Ginestrelle Studio and its talented and devoted Director, Marina Merli)

So to start us off, here are some of the plants I have collected and begun to print ( with many more pics of prints in future posts):

Medlar: a kind of apple scarcely seen anymore in some European countries, Ready to eat when soft:

Our old friend the elder, “sambucco” here, with rusty companion:


Not just a tree but a thicket of figs outside the Barn Studio:


Blackberries galore:


Dramatic peeling bark on a birch:,


The Eglantine wild rose of Fairy Tale fame:,






Bits of meteorite rock with Assisi pink limestone:


Studio chair with wovem wheat stalk seat:




Centaura cynanus:


Pomegranates in a pot:




Malva zebrina:




Carpino nero (Ostyra carpinifolia) – not known to me in Canada but widespread on the Subasio. Prints BRIGHT BRIGHT yellow!


The familiar lovely blue of Wild Chicory;


And last for today, the walnut:


Next posts: the prints and some little peeks the deco in Ginestrelle.





About wendyfe

I am an artist working in mixed media textiles and Artists' Books with a focus on vintage cloth reworked with stitching, natural dyeing, eco printing and rust printing . My work can be seen at
This entry was posted in dye plants, native plants, Subasio. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Plants of the Subasio

  1. Ginny Huber says:

    Ciao Wendy! So delighted to see these. So glad u r enjoying Subasio and Umbria

  2. Edwina says:

    How exciting! I am dyeing to hear all about this amazing adventure when you return!

  3. arlee says:

    ohhhhhhhhhhh i can’t wait to see the results! and I never thought there would be so many familiar plants so far from here!

    • wendyfe says:

      I am going with the flow here re expectations for colour. So far, lots of yellow when I print the plant on its own, no modifier or companion. Next week I will be more familiar with the mixing possibilities!

  4. well, first a big move and now a big trip! huge doings, and such beautiful photos wendy. thanks for including us on your journey!

  5. jamamakitty says:

    you take such wonderful photos…. love the olives and the dogwood. the olive leaves look like they have great potential and a dark color too – i’m curious which color they will print… enjoy!!

    • wendyfe says:

      Hello Jamamakitty

      So far the olives have printed golden rich warm YELLOW on paper. Will try on cloth soon. Anxious to see if any other shade will emerge


    • wendyfe says:

      My olive prints came out golden yellow, like the old Indian yellow of the palette. They then darken if you modify them with a tad of iron liquor painted on

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s