may leaves


back in my norfolk home I’m surrounded by burgeoning growth, which has to be kept in check to some extent.


this year the dog roses are even more extravagantly looping and taking up a lot of space. it’s a problem deciding when to cut them back; they need old wood to flower, and then the hips are so gorgeous in the autumn and winter.


I have two massive ones just over the arch and then on the end of the hedge here at the entrance to the wild garden. and another that has grown a trunk thicker than my wrist and grown up into the beech tree, to flower at a height of twenty feet. this is what they do best.


the meadow grasses and flowers are doing well. I have gone in with the long-handled shears and deleted most of the hogweed which likes to take over; it’s too big for the space.


and I’m in the process of making paths in the long grass


I love the way the fern and the spiral curves of the metal seat complement each other.


well of course it hasn’t taken long for me to start dyeing things again. the holme oaks at the top of the road are in leaf shedding mode, and I have been up there a couple of times in the dry weather to rake them up into black plastic bags for the dyebath. the a huge truck came down past here, wreaking havoc with the verges and the low branches. I picked up oak, sweet chestnut and field maple off the road after that, and rather than let them go to waste, rustled up a dyeing session. I had been wanting to try all these leaves anyway, as they are full of tannin and ought to print in contact with iron.


here is a piece of silk viscose velvet which has taken up colour well from those leaves after a quick soaking in a bath of rainwater and vinegar in a cast iron pot.


I have just made a jacket from a luxurious double-sided cotton jersey, using an overlocker for the first time. it isn’t quite finished, it is going to have a zip, a two way, heavy antiqued metal one, but that hasn’t arrived yet. also soaked in the iron water, it has taken prints well, and would have done even better if I had got enough pressure evenly over it. I also tried marigolds, the garden variety, which made yellowish blobs … need to try harder, there’s obviously potential there.


I am very pleased with the oak and sweet chestnut prints. I tried all these leaves last autumn and got very little from them, but the iron makes all the difference, for me.


there’s a big swag of sweet chestnut on the left front. the pockets are part of the sleeves from a shirt, thanks for the tip, India Flint in your Second Skin book – the rest of the shirt is presently being converted into a pinny, instructions for which are in said book 🙂 one pocket is on the inside.

1 chestnutjacketside

below the pocket is a print from some field maple leaves


and more oak leaves on the collar. there are also quite successful bramble stem and leaf prints on the inside –

I may, as a finishing touch wrap it up into a bundle to sop up the tiny bit of lichen purple dye I made in Spain, maybe a patch on the upper back.

I also discovered that the new leaves that the holme oaks are sprouting, print purple on wool. but the old brown leaves I swept up off the road are quite different from the old leaves of the encina (same tree) in Spain which dye dark purple grey and rich brown; a not very strong grey on cotton – and khaki green on wool was the result.


  1. Just re-discovered your blog..just also took a class with Michel garcia but in the US (New Hampshire)..and have been addicted for the past two years to eco-print and natural dye…am liking your posts!

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