"Backyard homesteading has been going strong for a while, and edible gardens, chicken coops, and beehives are ubiquitous even in urban neighborhoods. The latest addition to the grow-it-yourself movement is natural dye gardens: plants used to make dyes for coloring textiles, yarn, and clothing. “Last year, I put in my first natural dye garden here in Berkeley,” says Leslie C. Bennett, owner of Pine House Edible Gardens in Oakland, California. “It's really beautiful and includes a lot of vegetables, fruit trees, and pollinator-attracting flowers, but we've selected varieties and quantities so that the harvests can be used for natural plant dyes as well.” Multiple recent books including Sasha Duerr’s Natural Color, Kristine Vejar’s The Modern Natural Dyer, and Chris McLaughlin’s A Garden to Dye For also attest to the growing interest in dye gardening.
Bennett favors coreopsis, cosmos, Japanese indigo, marigold, ‘Moonshine’ yarrow, blue cornflower, and purple basil for making dyes. “Many of these are kitchen and cutting garden favorites too,” she points out. “So it’s pretty easy to integrate a natural dye garden into an edible garden.”