A Garden to Dye For Book Review

Natural dyes from the garden - learn how with A Garden To Dye For l Book review l Homestead Lady (.com)Have you ever wondered how to make natural dyes from organic plant material? Are you a lover of textiles, crafts or kids? Do I ever have a book for you to read: A Garden To Dye For!

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A Garden to Dye For Book Review

Although I haven’t reviewed a book for the blog lately, I have been reading them as voraciously as ever and I have to say A Garden To Dye For was a delight among the stacks of reading material that totters precariously by my bed.

There are several quality books on natural dyes. The first one I got was The Weaver’s Garden. That little book was given to me by my step mother, Deborah, who was a kindred gardener and lover of beautiful things. I was still a teenager, I think, when I read it and was fascinated by the idea that you could make dyes out of plant parts that were growing in my yard.

The only thing I  knew about dye at the time was that you bought it at the store in a small box marked RIT. (Ironic how close that is to R.I.P. Make sure you read the section called “Healthy Hues? Good Question!” in A Garden to Dye For if you want more information on the topic of healthy dyes.)

This Book is For Gardeners

My favorite thing about this book is that it was written for gardeners – people already unapologetically addicted to plants looking for even valid reasons to add even more specimens to their gardens. “But honey, I really needed that plant – it says so, right in this book!”

You gardeners may already be growing plants that can be used for natural dye. Or, you might be introduced to new specimens that become absolute necessities in your yard to feed your ever growing addiction to plant based dyes. Either way, this book is written for gardeners looking to create a dye garden.

If you want to purchase natural dyes online, be sure to look for a kit. Before we had Chris’s book, we bought a plant based dye kit from Amazon and used it for our science fair project. Using a kit can be a great way to get your feet wet with plant based dyes.

You can read about what we used by visiting this link.

However, if you want to learn to create your own garden of natural color, A Garden to Dye For is for you.

Even Novices Can Do It

Even if you’re not interested in the gardening information, Chris’s book will take you step by step through the concept of creating natural dyes. She does so without complicated steps or language. Even a novice like me was able to easily keep up with the pace of information in the book.

We were so inspired by what we read that the kids and I immediately tried out some plant based dyes from random plants we had in the backyard. To read more about that fun, visit this link.

We even used natural dyes for our Easter egg decorating and you can read about that here.

Know Your Tools

Chris outlines what tools you’ll need and gives you realistic expectations for your endeavors with natural dyes. The supply list really isn’t that long or expensive. Some pots, long handled spoons, mordants and the plants themselves, of course.

Don’t know what a mordant is? No worries! Chris also breaks down the vocabulary of natural dyes. Words like colorfast, fugitive and mordant all become clear to you.

One of my favorite parts is where Chris takes you from garden to garden to find plants to use for natural dyes:

  1. You go with her from the cutting garden to the veggie garden.
  2. Then, you move on to the herb garden gathering dye plants.
  3. Just when you think you’ve exhausted your resources, she takes you to the forest. There you learn about the colors to be found in the natural selections of God’s gardens: trees, shrubs, weeds and native plants.

A Garden to Dye For book review by Homestead Lady - naturally dyed scarves and silks

Chat Around the Vat

One of my favorite things is that the book is very conversational. You and Chris are just chatting about plant dyes on a spring afternoon in the garden.

I like that Chris isn’t a chemist and makes no claims to being commercial in her applications, or specific about her measurements. Here motto is, try it! If it works, cool; if not, what are you really out? Every experiment with plant dyes can teach you something, regardless of outcome.

At the very end of A Garden to Dye For, Chris helps you plan out your own dye plant garden, with four different design ideas:

  • Formal Rose
  • Edible Dye
  • Cutting Dye
  • Mixed Dye

I want one of each. I don’t do things by halves.

If you’ve ever read any of my book reviews before, you’ll know that I am very shallow when it comes to graphics. The book must have pretty pictures for me to truly love it. A Garden to Dye For does not disappoint us with the pictures – they’re lovely!

I really only review books I think are worthy of your attention and/or a purchase so the following will be no surprise: I think you should add A Garden to Dye For to your permanent collection!


Background picture on cover graphic gratefully attributed to this Wikipedia Commons user.

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