Natural Dye Garden Project

Mission Statement: The mission of the Rocky Mountain Weavers’ Guild Dye Garden Project is to preserve and promote the art and science of natural dyeing through outreach and collaboration with the Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms.

Participation Requirements:

  1. Become a member of RMWG and DBG
  2. Attend a DBG volunteer Training session

The Janice Ford Memorial Dye Garden is on DBG property. The natural dye garden project members are considered DBG volunteers and are required to go through a DBG volunteer training. This orientation is a couple of hours and also involves a one-time $50 payment for a t-shirt, a required badge to wear while at the garden and also a background check. For volunteer training information contact: chatfieldvol@botanicgardens.org or call 720-865-4340.

Meeting Times: During the summer months once the garden is planted the Natural Dye Garden Project (NDGP) meets at the garden during the week mostly on Thursdays. The group re-arranges this schedule if there is another activity / event that occurs that week. For example, in 2017 the DBG Chatfield Farms “Free Days” are held on Tuesdays for June and August and Saturday in July for the Lavender Festival. We work on those days instead of Thursdays to provide dye garden tours and demonstrations.
During the winter months the NDGP group historically has met on the second and fourth Thursdays for dye days at the church kitchen where RMWG meets

Activities: The Natural Dye Garden project studies the use of various plants for natural dyeing. The collaboration between RMWG and DBG Chatfield farms began with the first garden being planted in 2014. Along with doing research on what plants to grow in the garden, the RMWG natural dye garden project members also provide financial support through selling dyed yarns and volunteer time to tend the garden, harvest plant materials for dyeing and dye yarn for sale. Most of the summer the group meets at the garden at least once a week for weeding, harvesting, and dyeing. We provide a dye session as part of the DBG summer kid’s camps and do dye demonstrations during DBG’s special events. If you are interested in natural dyeing and in helping to maintain the dye garden, please contact dyegarden@rmweaversguild.org.

The Natural Dye Garden Project now has a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/growingadyegarden/) and an interactive blog (https://growingadyegarden.wordpress.com/), both moderated by Cathy Jacobus. Visit them for up-to-date information about the doings of the Project.
On the blog so far:

Historical Information:
The Janice Ford Memorial Natural Dye Garden Project is a collaboration between the Rocky Mountain Weavers Guild and the Denver Botanic Garden at Chatfield. The Janice Ford family donated seed money to the guild to help establish it in July 2013. Many people who were interested in natural dyes formed the natural dye study group, led by Donna Brown, who has been studying and dyeing with natural dyes for over 25 years. The RMWG provides financial support for the dye garden project, which is also supported by donations and fund raisers. Fencing, irrigation and signage were the primary expenses in the first year, but there are ongoing expenses for seeds and support materials. Much of the labor necessary to establish the garden has come from the Natural Dye Study Group and other interested guild members. The study group has now become the supporters of the Natural Dye Garden Project, as the group no longer fits the description of a study group. More help is always needed! To volunteer at the dye garden, send email to dyegarden@rmweaversguild.org

Each year, the Natural Dye Study Group has chosen the dye plants, obtained the seeds for the Denver Botanic Garden-Chatfield to germinate and grow in their greenhouse, and planned the garden layout. The first planting was May 28, 2014. Most of the plants were grown from seeds, but the madder was harvested from her garden by Judy Lepthien and planted in a special raised bed to keep it from invading too enthusiastically. Planning for the 2016 season will soon begin.

The formal d garden dedication was August 22, 2015. It was a magnificent event, attended by many members of Janice Ford’s family, as well as leaders from the Denver Botanic Garden. There were displays of naturally dyed items and also of Janice Ford’s weaving and dyeing. In addition, there was a demonstration of silk dyeing and lots of refreshments! Janet Bare wrote a summary of the event, published in the September 2015 newsletter.

Information about various dye plants: Dye Plant of the Month (2014-2015)

Notes from the Dye Garden:
May 2016 Notes: Dye Garden Tapestry, by Paul Tracy
Notes from the Dye Garden, April 2016–Weld
Notes from the Dye Garden, November 2015 – Fresh Indigo Leaves
Notes from the Dye Garden, October 2015- Cosmos

Images from the Dye Garden
Click on the images to get to larger ones, then click again to get even larger ones.

Dye Garden Dedication Day, August 22, 2015

Sign2_crop
About the Dye Garden

About the Dye Garden

Handwovens by Janice Ford

Handwovens by Janice Ford

Presentation by Brian Vogt, CEO of the DBG

Presentation by Brian Vogt, CEO of the DBG

Presentations--Annie and  members of the Ford family

Presentations–Annie and members of the Ford family

Presentations--Eunice, Annie, and Donna (with Linda Lugenbill's basket)

Presentations–Eunice, Annie, and Donna (with Linda Lugenbill’s basket)

Display of Naturally Dyed Items

Display of Naturally Dyed Items

More Naturally Dyed Items

More Naturally Dyed Items

Naturally Dyed Silk Scarves

Naturally Dyed Silk Scarves

Flowers Ready to Harvest

Flowers Ready to Harvest

Indigo

Indigo

Rows with Obelisk (by Linda Lugenbill) and Sunflowers

Rows with Obelisk and Sunflowers

Indigo Blue Tree Lights near Dye Garden, December 28 2014

Indigo Blue Tree Lights

Click here to read about what we did in the garden in 2014: Overview of 2014 Dye Garden Achievements

Skein Tagging Day October 30, 2014

Twisting skeins

Re-skeining

Re-skeining 2

Tagging

Tagging skeins 2

Tagging skeins 3

Tagged skeins

Tagged skeins 2

Fencing!

Fencing, from NE corner

Fencing, looking north toward granary and corner gate

View through one of the windows in the fence, NE corner

Indigo Dyeing Day at the Natural Dye Garden, September 23-25, 2014

Indigo Dye Day 9-25-2014

Indigo Dye Day 9-25-2014

Indigo Dye Day 9-25-2014

Indigo Dye Day 9-25-2014

Indigo Dye Day 9-25-2014

Indigo Dye Day 9-25-2014

Indigo Dye Day 9-25-2014

Indigo Dye Day 9-25-2014

Indigo Dye Day 9-25-2014

Indigo Dye Day 9-25-2014

Indigo Dye Day 9-25-2014

Indigo Dye Day 9-25-2014

Dye Day at the Natural Dye Garden, August 9, 2014

Dye Day 8-9-2014

Dye Day 8-9-2014

Dye Day 8-9-2014

Dye Day 8-9-2014

Dye Day 8-9-2014

Dye Day 8-9-2014

Dye Day 8-9-2014

Dye Day 8-9-2014

Dye Day 8-9-2014

Dye Day 8-9-2014

Dye Day 8-9-2014

Dye Day 8-9-2014

Dye Day 8-9-2014

Dye Day 8-9-2014

Dye Day 8-9-2014

The Beginning–Spring, 2014

Dye Plants!

In the Greenhouse, May 2

Donna & Jan Identifying Dye Plants in the Greenhouse

Paul’s Most Excellent Garden Plan (that we didn’t quite use)

Measuring and marking paths and beds

Discussing the corner bed

Digging Paths

Preparing to Plant

Plants Patiently Waiting

Dye Plants in the Greenhouse with Emilee of the DBG

Tour of the Greenhouse with Emilee

Inspecting the Pigeon House (next to the dye garden)

But where is the garden?

Planting

Planting Crew Hard at Work

Watering

Main water line for irrigation going in, May 30, 2014

Planted Garden, May 30

The drip tape is dripping, 6/4/14