Tag Archives: E Polyanthemos



We spent Christmas with my beloved’s family and my daughter in Melbourne.  We were in Melbourne, so yarn bombs were to be expected, but this one on a major city street was a serious commitment, with lace and cables and a a lot of pom poms, offering the colours of the rainbow.  maybe it was someone’s statement on the whole same sex marriage debate our country has all too recently been having?

I did not expect to be surrounded by dye plants!  There were dye eucalypts all round where we were staying: E Cinerea, E Sideroxylon, and even more exciting, E Polyanthemos! Also, rhagodia in fruit.


Even more exciting still, Indigofera Australis, and a lot of it.  I just had no way to dye with any of it in the time we were there.  I just had to be content with admiration.


Filed under Dye Plants

Spring Sewing Circle 1

Ah, Mansfield.  I was privileged to go to India Flint’s Spring Sewing Circle in this lovely Victorian town not so long ago.  I have been itching to write about it–but overcome by my day job.  Mansfield was full of fabulous plants for dyeing, including eucalypts that are hard to find in my dry, hot hometown. This is a stunning E Crenulata that was just hanging over the caravan park fence.

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There were catalpas and prunus trees that were so full of little plums that possums were harvesting all night, leaving leaves all over the ground for the enterprising dyer.  There were cotinus trees, and berberis plants, maples and E Polyanthemos… and there was St John’s Wort in quantity, which India harvested to share with us.

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I loved wandering the streets with enough time to admire the trees and expect to be able to use these leaves if I collected a few. I even found this one sunning itself at the edge of someone’s front fence!

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With all this bounty, people’s bundles were packed full of amazing windfalls and all kinds of leafy wonder.  I had come with some serviceable garment plans: I brought along a singlet with all its main seams machine stitched and hemmed it by hand, finishing all the edges.  It used up all my scraps of silky merino.  Then I made another one completely by hand.  I really didn’t think I could be converted to making garments by hand, but India has turned me round.  I still love my machine–but this is another pleasure altogether.  One of them got wrapped around a piece of copper and given a long, mild cook.

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Out came greens and purples and pinks and a little apricot.  The St John’s wort was a spectacular dye plant I have never had a chance to try before.  This dyeing process taught me that I’ve been reading and not understanding.  More experiments will surely follow as I try to consolidate all I learned from this bundle.

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I loved that St John’s wort!  If weeding has to be done, this is a rather glorious outcome.  Others had made wonderful silk bloomers and nighties that also got the St John’s wort treatment.

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The catalpa greens and maple leaves were fun too… and prunus leaf pink and purple… well, so much bounty.

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The other singlet had a hotter time in a dye bath that had already seen a lot of iron- and eucalypt-rich bundles, the things of which lovely string resist marks are made. I always love watching other people bundle up and unbundle.  This is a deceptively simple process that different people use to achieve gloriously different effects.  Finally I had E Polyanthemos I could be confident in, and E Crenulata, and so much more!

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Here’s the E Crenulata on the back, with some string marks on show and fresh from the dye pot.

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And here is the front, with those wonderful almost-round E Polyanthemos leaves. I am looking forward to wearing these come winter!

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Eucalyptus magic.  Sensational!  I see over on India’s blog that she is advertising a new Australian class for 2016 and some tips for the new leaf printer.  There is so much to learn from someone whose dye knowledge, love of plants and capacity for design are so extensive.  And so much pleasure in learning from someone so generous, creative and imaginative.  Do not get me started on the food…  I may have started out with plain and serviceable garments, but I had a feeling I wouldn’t be stopping there, and… I was right.  More instalments to come as time allows, my friends!




Filed under Leaf prints, Natural dyeing, Sewing

Eucalyptus bark dyepots—the outcome

Well, the outcomes are in– E Scoparia bark on the left and E Poyanthemos bark on the right.

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As I was rinsing my pots a sudden movement caught my eye.

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All those cuttings and seedlings and little trees are doing well, because, we have finally had some lovely rain!

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It’s lovely to see water pooling after the long dry of summer.

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And, a lovely pair of warm socks for the coming winter chilly toes have made their way off the needles!

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They have gone to their happy home already…

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Filed under Dye Plants, Knitting, Natural dyeing

Eucalyptus bark dye pots

At the end of the year, my sisters and I were out walking and gathered some E Polyanthemos bark.  This is a purely speculative dye pot.  And it has been waiting in a cardboard box.  I moved it to a dye pot and came out next day to add water.  Do you see what I see?

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Yes, it’s a redback spider!  She got away from me before I could get her out of the pot, so I put the lid back on and left it for another day.  I don’t want to kill her this way.

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Finally I got back to the pot and couldn’t find the redback, but she appeared as the water level rose and I managed to get her out without putting my fingers in!

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Here are the pots prior to heating. E  Polyanthemos in the foreground and E Scoparia in the back.

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Filed under Natural dyeing

Leaf print experiments

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I’ve been trying leaves I don’t usually use and some different strategies for cooking them up. Prunus leaves, kindly contributed by this block of flats.  I am sure they wouldn’t mind!

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Maple… I think this is Japanese maple.

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I have tried several different sheoaks.

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Some of the results are really spectacular.  My favourite is quite green, very exciting.

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Here it is beside the prunus prints.

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They are pretty pale…

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The maple leaves were interesting, and I love the impression of the string ties.  And this sheoak came out better than any other so far.  I tried 6he leaves out on a linen collar, and wrapped it around a rusty spring I found in my leaf gathering travels.  This bundle was so small I overlooked it, so this one had a long time in the pot, which is no doubt a clue for future experiments.

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Some results were less exciting.  I did get a pale green print from our birch leaves, which is a first and might be promising.

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I went back for more juvenile E Polyanthemos and this time, not so great prints resulted, but I did get some that were quite green, and that’s promising too.

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Meanwhile, the saga of the neighbourhood bees continues.  The lorikeets moved out of this nesting box, and the bees moved in weeks ago.  There is now honeycomb visible in the opening.

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Filed under Dye Plants, Leaf prints, Natural dyeing, Neighbourhood pleasures

Bag making

There came a point in the end of year crazy-pants where I couldn’t stand all the bits and pieces that were lurking around my office/sewing space. Finally, I decided to take action.  Who needs a potato sack in residence in their work space for months?  It went the way of so many potato sacks round here.  This one was a particularly nice sack, with quite a complex weave structure (for a hessian sack).  The printing was even less wash fast than usual (for a hessian sack) but hopefully it will now have another life being appreciated for its carrying qualities.

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Then there were all the small pieces of fabric left over from other things.  I created patchwork from them and soon had enough for a bag (or two!) lined with eco-prints I like less.

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These are mostly small pieces of pre-loved garments that have been turned into other things, with or without prior leaf prints.  This one has already gone to a happy home with friends who use bags all the time.

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And then there was the ongoing bag patching ritual.  There were three or four new holes… so my favourite bag got yet another patching job.  From this:

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To this!

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Filed under Leaf prints, Sewing

The quest for Eucalyptus Polyanthemos continues

One weekend recently, I went to Norwood.  Well, really, I was deposited in this well heeled inner Eastern  suburb while my beloved went on a mission further from home, with a plan for collecting me on her way back.  The idea was that I would look for a birthday present for my Mum.  I had a few other goals in mind that involved the very nice bookshop there and a bit of random wandering.

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At some stage I decided a gelati would be perfect, as you do, given the chance.  So, gelati in hand, I wandered away from the main road and down a side street to see what I could see.  There on a bank sloping down to an unlovely carpark were some glorious sheoaks and some not-so-common eucalypts.  To me they seemed like plausible instances of E Polyanthemos, but the tallest I had ever seen.

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The evidence there had been many-anthers was all over the ground.  I think my eyes were caught by the fluttering of somewhat oval leaves in the breeze.

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Before long I was climbing the bank and dodging the cars.  Some of the trees had been cut and had re-sprouted with juvenile leaves that were almost round, and quite large.  My manual (Holliday and Watton’s Gardener’s Companion to Eucalypts) says ‘The juvenile leaves are blue and almost circular, the apex notched.’  Round, yes.  Blue, yes.  Notched?

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One thing led to another, as it so often does (well, in my case)… so I picked a small sample and tucked it in my bag.

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After a long walk and as much shopping as I could take, I sat myself down at a bus stop and waited for the return of my beloved.

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This morning I unwrapped the resulting bundle… very pleasing.



And another from the same pot… which is a little greener than the picture suggests…


And now for today’s completely gratuitous flower picture. This poppy is a completely different colour from any of its predecessors.  You have to love nature, and the frolicsomeness of bees rolling around in pollen…



Filed under Dye Plants, Eucalypts, Leaf prints, Natural dyeing

Eucalyptus Polyanthemos

I’ve been curious about E Polyanthemos for ages.  I saw one on a tour of the Currency Creek Eucalyptus arboretum years back and I had already heard it was a good dye plant.  I am guessing it is mentioned in Eco-Colour.  It has been on my mental list for quite some time.  So when I found one that had been identified by a more knowledgeable person recently, I paid a lot of attention.

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I think the two trees I have been holding in mind as potential examples of E Polyanthmos might actually be E Polyanthemos on the basis of this sighting.

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It’s a lovely tree–those wide grey green leaves are truly lovely.  Evidently, they are also delicious, because this one was covered in leaves that had been nibbled by some kind of insect.

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This tiny sample went into my dyepot…


And created very interesting prints. It intrigues me that one plant can create such different colours in such close proximity.  I have had wonderful colour from the buds of the other two trees I visit from time to time, and the tree is truly spectacular when in blossom, because the many-anthers its botanical name promises are needless to say held on many flowers which attract many birds.  Ah, the glory of eucalypts!



Filed under Dye Plants, Eucalypts, Leaf prints