blood root

Category : Nature
Date : April 18, 2013

Red dye is very hard to come by naturally in these parts.  Ever since taking an inspiring course with India Flint at Haystack, I gather fallen, or selectively pick, leaves, spent flowers, bark, hulls to dye both cloth and paper.   Red is my holy grail in these searches, it seems.

The bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) appeared here in the last 48 hours and its roots make a red dye that was once used by the American Indians.  However, I cannot bring myself to pull up these tiny fleeting plants for their roots.  Instead, I like to count how many are popping up and then monitor their growth. When we moved here, the grounds were overrun with invasive vines and weeds.  Slowly, ever so slowly, we have been reclaiming the land, and each year it is a treat to see what arrives in the spring.  Bloodroot is one of my favorites.

Bloodroot springing up in our woods

Bloodroot springing up in our woods

Emily Dickinson, known in her time more for her gardens and flowers than her poetry, relished in the coming of spring—

“…and in our rambles we found many and beautiful children of spring, which I will mention and see if you have found them – the trailing arbutus, adder’s tongue, yellow violets, liverleaf, blood-root and many other small flowers.”

Oh by the way, today is Poem In Your Pocket Day sponsored by the Emily Dickinson Museum.


[Judith Farr, The Gardens of Emily Dickinson, (Harvard University Press, Boston, 2005), p. 97

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