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5 Flowers to Grow for a Starter Natural Dyes Garden

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5 Flowers to Grow for a Starter Natural Dyes Garden

September 29, 2022

In a town crackling with talented creatives of all types, Amanda de Beaufort stands out. Professionally known as Dyekween, Amanda is the textiles artist behind a_db_botanical color, a line of naturally dyed linens that has spawned collaborations with longstanding brands like Anthropologie and indie fashion label rag & bone.

When I first wrote about her burgeoning cottage industry in 2020 for Remodelista, she was extracting her dyes from store-bought produce (avocados, onions, etc.) or foraged plants. Today, Amanda makes her dyes mostly from plants she grows in a community garden in Maplewood, NJ, where she lives with her husband and two kids. “I wanted to have more control and consistency with my dyes. And the flowers in a dye garden are not typically available in stores,” she says.

Amanda watering her flowers at the community garden.
Above: Amanda watering her flowers at the community garden.

You don’t need a large plot to start a dye garden. Amanda’s is just one bed. “Typically it’s a 1:1 ratio. You can use a cup or two of flower heads to dye one scarf,” she explains. To encourage more flowering, she fanatically deadheads. “I will cut all my flower heads off on Monday and Tuesday morning, they have all come back!” And what she doesn’t use right away, she dries: “Since I run a business using these plants, I aggressively dry and press flowers all summer to make sure I have enough for the winter.”

“I love gardening—there is something very satisfying about growing something you can use. And flowers are way easier to grow than vegetables!” Below, Amanda shares her five favorite long-blooming flowers to grow for a natural dye garden.

Photography by Claire Weiss of Day19.

Sulfur Cosmos

Amanda, collecting seeds from her sulfur cosmos. &#8\2\20;These bright orange flowers love poor soil and just a few give a ton of orange dye. I plant them around boarders or to fill in spaces.&#8\2\2\1;
Above: Amanda, collecting seeds from her sulfur cosmos. “These bright orange flowers love poor soil and just a few give a ton of orange dye. I plant them around boarders or to fill in spaces.”

Pincushion Flower ‘Black Knight’

&#8\2\20;These dark purple variety  grow on long stems, so they are great for a cutting garden, too. Each petal is shaped like a tiny flower. They are beautiful and give a deep green, navy and blue dye.&#8\2\2\1;
Above: “These dark purple variety [of scabiosa] grow on long stems, so they are great for a cutting garden, too. Each petal is shaped like a tiny flower. They are beautiful and give a deep green, navy and blue dye.”

Marigolds

&#8\2\20;I like the big African ones and the French ones with red and orange—the red creates an olive green dye!&#8\2\2\1;
Above: “I like the big African ones and the French ones with red and orange—the red creates an olive green dye!”

Coreopsis

Above: “These grow abundantly all summer and are very easy to grow. I start from seed, but you can find them at most garden stores. I love the shapes of the tiny flowers and they have an intense amount of red, yellow, and orange dye.” The coreopsis flowers Amanda grows have a dark orange center.

Goldenrod

&#8\2\20;This grows wild all over the United States, but having a patch in your garden is great for pollinators, and the late summer flowers give a deep gold dye.&#8\2\2\1; Here, Amanda harvests goldenrod from her friend&#8\2\17;s re-wilded garden.
Above: “This grows wild all over the United States, but having a patch in your garden is great for pollinators, and the late summer flowers give a deep gold dye.” Here, Amanda harvests goldenrod from her friend’s re-wilded garden.

For more on Amanda’s line of naturally dyed linens, see:

To check out her kitchen remodel, see:

For more on natural dyes, see:

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