Summer Solstice is fast approaching and my garden is almost ready to meet the longest day of the year! It has been a month (and some! ) of long days for me in the new garden. For what is an eco printmaker and dyer without her plants? It was a matter of the utmost urgency for me to rearrange the existing botanicals at least by the solstice so that eco dyeing and printing could resume…With the addition of some new plants and a few transplants from my old garden (though, sadly, most died in the harsh winter 2013 – 2014) I am almost there! So here are some pics of the garden, back and front, and the progress to date.
The front garden from the porch.
The specimen red Japanese maple (an eco dyer's delight) is underplanted with various shade lovers moved from the back garden which became suddenly very sunny due to the over-winter demise of a sugar maple. No more grass, just pea gravel now with field stones plus brick edging that will disappear from sight as the edging plants (for example: geranium, thyme, dianthus) grow in:
Along the sunny fence, I have planted old favourite cottage perennials, many of which give colour in the eco dye pot. More are to be added, like tansy and goldenrod.
Ferns, Solomon's seal, Siberian iris, daylilies, hostas, lupins, mint, variagated weigela and dogwood:
Before I made it my own, the gardens back and front were already rich with interesting native plants like Eastern cedars, Bloodroot, American smokebush (Cotinus obovatus) redberried elder, wood poppy, ostrich ferns, American bittersweet, goatsbeard, virgin's bower clematis, Virginia creeper. But as you know, one thing always leads to another in a garden (Didn't Adam and Eve set us some examples?) First, the mature sugar maple that died rendered areas of the back garden inhospitable to some shade plants. Then, installing a walkway in the front occasioned the transplanting of three mature evergreens- two yews and an Alberta spruce – which I couid not bring myself to chop down…We will see if they survive among other native plants installed along the shady perimeters of the back yard. Some images:
In the back, a native prairie grass, big bluestem, with rocks and vessel to break up the gravel “lawn”
Natives along the back fence: Pagoda dogwood shrub (back left) and Joe Pye weed (centre right) with fave green immigrants greater celandine (back right), sweet woodruff (under the dogwood) and hostas (foreground). I have planted the native celandine (aka wood poppy) elsewhere in the woodland area.
Native serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea or laevis, not sure which…the tag said A. canadensis but that is a cop-out name…)
Ostrich fern, Black Chokeberry(L), Solomon’s Seal and American smokebush(R), natives all.
Wonderful native sumac, Rhus typhina. With iron bedstead as Sugar Snap pea support and as eco print assistant later this summer…TBD!
The loud purple smokebush, brash and brazen, wonderful hybrid, fronted by enormous bloodroot, a native dye plant. Set beside Shlomo's garden candelabra, hand-wrought iron.
The Black Chokeberry in bloom, early May, beside red-twigged dogwood. Shade-loving natives. And another iron sculpture by Shlomo, “Peony” .
The greater celandine, green immigrant, which gives lovely greens and oranges when smooshed onto paper:
In May, before some plants in this area were transplanted to the front garden. The whole candelabra – sculpture by Shlomo. The bedstead was garbage-picked.
“Canadian Pioneer” sculpture by Shlomo in the “woodland” garden of native plants alongside a few respectable green immigrants. (I am into native plant gardening but am no purist…Live and let live, in life, in gardens and in art, say I …Am I not also an immigrant, a stranger and a sojourner on this earth? )
Now for a little Non Native Gardening: I am growing these in pots for now:
Woad. Weld. Indigo. Japanese Indigo.
Just because. Reports later in the season!
This is the Persicaria tinctoria (Japanese indigo) in planters:
Native baptisia australis, AKA Rattlebush because the seed pods rattle when drying. This plant fixes nitrogen in the soil. I have put a weedy “Northern Lights” (bright orange blooms!)azalea close by to fatten her up…
Coreopsis verticillata. Red dye from every part. Not the prairie version which is a native but a respectable relative. This image shows all that survived the Winter From Hell in Ottawa:
A hybrid of the threadleaf coreopsis above, in the front garden, too.
Good old tagetes, red, orange, yellow from the blooms and green from leaves and calix.
Precious wee pansies, even if they are not real Johnny-Jump-Ups. Blues and teals and turquoises in the dye pot.
Foxgloves and chives. Not sure about these in th dye pot…foxglove is risky!
Hybrid chartreuse sumac as companion to the red Japanese maple. Colour in the dye pot: TBD
Siberian iris (blue and green dyes) with pollinator plant, Canada thistle (L). Not natives but useful – to me…
Ostrich ferns, black chokeberry, Solomon’s Seal and smokebush, all natives. All eco-printable.
Sumac in June…growing nicely!
Red-painted bamboo poles as climbing supports for Hubbard squash in pots: nicely tied with copper wire by Shlomo (copper thrifted from a cable)
. Expecting the squash will cover the pergola while we are waiting for the grape vine and arctic kiwi to grow.
And after all this art in the garden what about art in your dye pot or at the printing press or at your bookbinder's bench, you may be asking.
This collagraph plate is part of my new series about a venerable elm that stood near my old house. I have collected photos of that elm for over 30 years. So now I have another way to say goodbye to our old home.
The “Elm” test print on eco printed paper:
Another collagraph plate created from some of my super-textured embroideries:
A third plate, also an “Elm” collagraph plate, yet to be proofed and printed. Report later. It has a kind of Wuthering Heights look to it, all windblown and broken…
Some of the prints from these plates will be on exhibit in July at the gallery associated with my printmakers’' group. Report later.
Next, on the topic of book arts:
“Unbound/Debride” is an exhibit of books and boxes by the Ottawa Valley chapter of the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild, held at the gallery of the lovely City of Ottawa Archives building.
Here are my eco printed box (L) and Shlomo's “El Anatsui” box (R)' with works by our colleagues Maggie McGovern (front), Paul Champion Demers (R), Beatrice Lourtioux (centre) and Holly Dean (back)
A funky selection: Genevieve Samson (L front) , Spike Minogue (L back), Shlomo (centre), Madeleine Rousseau (R) and Holly Dean (top). (This book by Holly appears in my article about book arts in the current issue of Fiber Art Now. See below)
My eco printed box and book with a coptic-bound, wooden-cover book by Paul Champion Demers:
The poster for the show:
Finally for this post, I mention two of my articles recently published: one about eco dyeing (with tutorial) in the current issue of the UK Journal for Weavers, Spinners and Dyers and one featuring Canadian book artists in the current Fiber Art Now.
The work of Sandra Brownlee (winner of the 2014 Governor General of Canada award), Martha Cole, Holly Dean and myself appears in Fiber Art Now.
Happy gardening! It is a great joy. And it entails many other joys.