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Hidden Treasure


They cut the hedgerow along #GarlickLane last week. Always dramatic looking, the branches and twigs of the dogwood, hawthorn, elder and blackthorn, wrenched and torn and split. On my walk, I noticed how the splinters of blackthorn had started to oxidise, revealing a deep orange colour. My first thought was obviously 'dye potential', so I picked a handful of the split branches from the gound and took them home.


As the wood was already turning a beautiful orangey tone, I went straight for adding it to the dye pot and heating gently for an hour. With other wood I have soaked it for up to a week before attempting to get colour from it.

The following day, I strained the dye, added a selection of vintage cottons, linens, silks, wool and lace, some mordnated with soya milk, some untreated and heated gently for an hour before leaving to develop it's colour overnight.

I am delighted with the colours I achieved, and would never have guessed these thorny hedges could produce such colour had I not seen the hedge trimmings. The vintage sari silk is a particular favourite of mine and actually glows.

Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) is a native British shrub, which is covered in long, sharp thorns. It has a froth of white flowers in the spring, followed by sloes (small, hard fruit) in the autumn which are traditionally used for preserves, wine and (my favourite) gin. Find out more, and watch a beautiful video 'A year in the life: Blackthorn' on the Woodland Trust website here .

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