I love trees. Some are especially precious to me. Like this one. The Department of Planning and Infrastructure says it is a Corymbia Maculata (Spotted Gum). I have tried dyeing with Corymbia Maculata. As a dye plant, it’s not spectacular: my samples are tan, tan and tan. Dye potential isn’t the only or even the main value in a lovely tree from my point of view, but just one of its potential fine qualities.
We failed to save it by objecting to its removal. A local creek is going to be put into a pipe so big a car would fit into it as part of major infrastructure works, and this tree is standing in the path that pipe is going to take beside the railway.
The Minister approved its removal, and his decision is not appealable. That fence along the railway stands where over 10 much smaller, but still appreciated, trees used to stand beside the spotted gum. Since their removal I hear there are six possums fighting in the nearest neighbours’ yard at night instead of just one. We have been given several different dates on which the Corymbia Maculata will be felled, and prepared ourselves for the day each time. It has been fenced off because tomorrow is the day. 9.30 am is the time. My nearest and dearest is staying with a friend tonight so as not to be here when it happens. The people who will be felling it will start to arrive at 7 am. It will be a big job. The chainsaws will be going all day long, if indeed they can do it in a day.
This tree must be decades old. The whole neighbourhood will be different without it. The flocks of native birds who have visited it when in bloom every year will no longer stop by. Under government policy, in our hearts and those of lots of our neighbours, it is a Significant Tree.
Yesterday I came through the royal showgrounds with my secateurs. On the way out, I spotted these fruits. I think this is one of the dianellas, probably Dianella Revoluta. It’s a common native, drought hardy inclusion in public plantings in my area. There were so many that on the way back, I took just a couple of stems from each plant and put them in my panniers. While I was there I saw some caltrop, so I removed that while I was there.
It’s one of the enemies of cyclists, as you might guess from these immature fruits… which when ripe will be the stuff of many punctures. I pull this out any time I have the chance.
I followed Jenny Dean’s suggestions about processing berries…
And, as might have been expected, the result was nothing like the fruits I started with. I would rate the unmordanted wool pale tan, wool with alum dark tan, the silk is grey-brown and the cotton is pale grey. Not too exciting, is my conclusion!
It was another weekend with leaf prints.
Eucalyptus Cinerea, before..
My test cotton sample, demonstrating that the mordanting I wrote about a little while back should work out just fine for the natural dyeing workshop I’ll be running.
On the weekend I travelled south of the city to celebrate the lives and love of two dear friends. They had an all-in-one birthday party and anniversary. I gave them a teapot and teacosy dyed with silky oak leaves (grevillea Robusta) and eucalypt, and they found it suitably funny.
As we left, one of them pointed out their now-flourishing, though still relatively small, pecan tree. I had seen pecan eco-prints on Lotta Helleberg’s lovely blog. I asked if I could pluck a few, and then I took them home and wrapped them in a piece of cotton twill that used to be a pair of trousers. It was ready and waiting, mordanted in soy and ready to go! Before… (such lovely leaves…)
I had also saved this sample of an unidentified eucalypt a friend was growing in his backyard, but sadly it yielded a few brownish smudges. It’s much prettier in person than as a leaf print. I think it is Eucalyptus Kruseana (Bookleaf Mallee).
And I spent some time creating textured batts ready for textured yarn spinning… wool with mohair locks, while I tried a new method for washing wool.
I keep finding myself humming ‘Deck the halls with boughs of holly’ when collecting bark. I realise it’s the first of December and there is a chance I have just been ear-wormed by a Christmas carol when passing by a shop… but I don’t think so. I think I am actually humming ‘Tis the season for bark-collecting, tralalalala tralalala’. Which may, of course, be even greater cause for concern! Today I went out with my bike and visited this tree, cunningly hidden behind and beside a carob tree (whose leaves you can see). I’ve tried dyeing with carob leaves, but nothing exciting emerged.
As I went to pack my bag of bark into my bike trailer a gecko ran out! Now that really was an occasion for celebration… a native lizard enjoying one of my favourite dye plants. I also collected bark from a tree in Leader St. I ran a sample dye pot some years back from leaves that had dried in the gutter beside it and got rich colour, but the council has trimmed the boughs so high I can’t reach leaves or see any buds or gumnuts. I am using the pattern of bark shedding to identify more E Scoparia trees. Anything that has bark that has turned dark grey and red just as it begins to shed is on my plausible candidates list if it is peeling now, which is why I visited the one in Leader St. Needless to say, there is a dye pot running now to test this theory. After all, ’tis the season for bark collecting…
And, at Guild today I became the happy recipient of natural dyestuffs of antiquity which I might be able to use for my dyeing workshop. Some had no labels, and this one is the most intriguing of the unidentified specimens. I could guess many, but not this one. Any clues? It looks to be the husk of a small fruit. Smaller than a hazelnut, say, but bigger than a pea. Dark on the outside and crimson on the inside.
This trove is going to take some research, but will be my first opportunity to try logwood and cochineal (let those bugs not have died in vain…) and suchlike, as well as some things I’ve never heard of, like shredded mulga bark (mulga roots are common firewood here, but I’ve never heard of this as a dyestuff) and ‘red sanderswood’. Happy times… I also received some undyed handspun yarn as part of the Guild birthday challenge, labelled ‘Goat Hair’. Perhaps it can be dyed from the new dye collection?