Adventures at Mount George

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Recently I was invited for a walk and blackberry picking at Mount George with dear friends.  We began by going past the ‘fairy’ homes.

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Clearly some small people have had a lot of fun here.  There were even letters for the fairy folk.

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Then we were passing through the creek where the blackberries ramble.  They are an awful pest in Australia, intentionally introduced initially (and still a source of free food) and then spread by every bird and beast, by water and trouser cuff and so on.

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I have many happy childhood memories of searching for free food of various sorts.  Clearly my parents had special talents in this area!  We picked many blackberries along the banks of the Yarra when we lived in outer Melbourne and there was a suburban block sized bramble at the end of our street, where Melbourne then ended.  And since then, in so many national parks and otherwise beautiful spots.  They are delicious but horribly invasive.

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Then, off up the mount to a favourite picnic spot of my friends’ in a rock formation.  I found evidence of other spinners at work.

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Right at the top, some austral indigo (indigofera australis) which I did not realise was native to our state.  And a spectacular picnic!

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Then on the way back, a stand of St John’s wort.  I picked a big bunch, and probably should have done the bush a favour and taken it all.

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It was a week of time poverty, so after some days in the fridge, I decided it was now or never and bundled up my St John’s wort, wrapping some thread in with the fabric for later use.

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On a whim, I put dried prunus leaves in the bath, and then began some days of cycling between slow cooking and wrapping in my trusty dog blanket in time with my schedule of many other things to do.  I am delighted to say that I think I really learned something from India about dyeing with this kind of plant, at Mansfield.  Where once I was experiencing an awful lot of mystery, now I’m able to apply a little knowledge and judgment–even if cramped a bit by other commitments.  With understanding, I find I can often manage those to my advantage.

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When I finally unbundled, there was some lovely purple and green.  The prunus bath was less exciting and quite brown (not a bad effect, but not purple either).  I decided to replenish the leaves and go again with some alum mordanted wool and see what happened.

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My hurried bundle has left a landscape of wrinkles and plant prints on some parts of the fabric.  I think I can have some fun times sewing this into something snug for winter…

13 Comments

Filed under Dye Plants, Leaf prints, Natural dyeing

13 responses to “Adventures at Mount George

  1. Wonderful story and pictures as usual.thank you. i tried growing some indigofera australis but had no luck. Will have to try again.

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  2. purplejulian

    and gorse, and st john’s wort also non native plants 😦 the st johns prints very impressive with the mordant, I must say …. and no inhibitions about harvesting it, I guess!

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    • You are so right. So many invasive species. And no hesitation about reducing the weed burden. But: no mordant on the St John’s wort That is quite some genius trick India has there!

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  3. Rebecca

    Best time poor effort ever!

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  4. Chrissy Guzzi

    People need to make sure that they are collecting St John’s Wort in SA as there are two look alike native Hypericums that are smaller than St Johns Wort but look the same to an untrained eye. Flowering is around the same time. I haven’t used it in bundle dyeing but the purple looks great.

    http://www.southeastweeds.org.au/system/files//f12/f17/o688/Weeds%20of%20the%20NSW%20South%20Coast.pdf

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  5. Love those little fairy houses! My children used to make them, but nothing like as good as those – still kept them very happy. I’m fascinated to hear about the invasive species blackberry – it’s pretty dominant in the UK too, but I guess we just take that for granted. We have lots of very difficult invasive species round us (Japanese knotweed just down our lane – do you have that? – also piri-piri ) but a whole host of our plants are welcome immigrants – it’s a tricky balance, isn’t it?

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  6. Love the colours from the St John’s Wort I haven’t tried dyeing with it but neither have I seen it around here, will have to try and grow some.

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  7. Susan

    Fairy Houses! what a treat to say nothing of the spider web on the plant AND blackberries…I want some! Have to do with frozen for now 😦

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