Backyard Inspiration

Foraging for Color in my Garden

Supposed only a “minute portion” of the backyard’s dandelion crop was harvested for the magazine’s layout. Photo: Scott Rosenkranz

Supposedly only a “minute portion” of the backyard’s dandelion crop was harvested for the magazine’s layout. Photo: Scott Rosenkranz

Inspired by Sasha Duerr’s story on harvesting natural dyes from backyard plants that appeared in our Fall issue, Pacific Horticulture art director, Scott Rosenkranz, and his daughter Erin ventured outside to experiment with creating another layer of interest for the layout. They crushed, ground, and pressed the golden yellow flowers of this common backyard weed and in the process “manufactured one heck of a mess in the kitchen.” Then they dripped, splattered, and blotted the extracted liquid onto “countless” sheets of paper until they were pleased with the results. The final result was a beautiful and completely relevant background for the story’s sidebar. “And it was a whole lot of fun.”

The final layout

Here’s the final layout that appeared on page 42 in our fall issue.

Now we’re all inspired! Follow us on Twitter @Pachort to see what we’ve come up with.  And feel free to share photos of your own playful, and very local color experiments with us there tagging your post #seasonalpalette.  Here are the fruits of my recent backyard dye experiments. I’m all set for ribbons for holiday gifting and looking at everything in the garden from a new perspective.

Plenty more comfrey where this large bunch came from. Photo: Lorene Edwards Forkner

Plenty more comfrey where this large bunch came from. Photo: Lorene Edwards Forkner

The same mix of cotton, linen, and wool simmer on the stove top with comfrey. Photo: Lorene Edwards Forkner

Cotton, linen, and wool simmer on the stove top with comfrey. Photo: Lorene Edwards Forkner

Comfrey... meh~ mostly beige. Although I thought the wool ended up looking like a little woodland animal! Photo: Lorene Edwards Forkner
Comfrey… meh~ mostly beige. Although I thought the wool ended up looking like a little woodland animal! Photo: Lorene Edwards Forkner

These humble zinnias bloomed all summer. Photo: Lorene Edwards Forkner

These humble zinnias bloomed all summer. Photo: Lorene Edwards Forkner

Cotton, linen, and wool simmered overnight in a slow cooker. Photo: Lorene Edwards Forkner

Cotton, linen, and wool simmered overnight in a slow cooker. Photo: Lorene Edwards Forkner

Zinnias yielded a surprisingly rich golden hue even though the blossoms I used were hot orange and pink. Photo: Lorene Edwards Forkner

Zinnias yielded a surprisingly rich golden hue even though the blossoms I used were hot orange and pink. Photo: Lorene Edwards Forkner

I had to poach our frozen stash of blackberries for my project causing my husband to fear for his pie supply. Photo: Lorene Edwards Forkner

I had to poach our frozen stash of blackberries for my project causing my husband to fear for his pie supply. Photo: Lorene Edwards Forkner

For anyone who has ever spilled berry pie on white pants this should come as no surprise. Photo: Lorene Edwards Forkner

For anyone who has ever spilled berry pie on white pants this should come as no surprise. Photo: Lorene Edwards Forkner

A range of luscious color in the blackberry dye was heavily dependent on the fiber. Photo: Lorene Edwards Forkner

A range of luscious color in the blackberry dye was heavily dependent on the fiber. Photo: Lorene Edwards Forkner

Festooning the kitchen. Photo: Lorene Edwards Forkner

Festooning the kitchen. Photo: Lorene Edwards Forkner