Last summer I resolved to try and make further use of the plants that I grow by employing them as natural textile dyes. When their season was through, I did a few experiments, dying various fabric scraps with the burgundy leaves and immature blooms of the large false roselle plants I had grown that year. Unfortunately, time quickly slipped through my fingers and the other plans I had in mind did not come to fruition.
This winter I have made a dramatic shift back to embroidery and my brain is consumed with thread. Recently, in preparation for the growing season, I have returned to experimentation, but this time I am dyeing threads rather than fabric.
I can’t seem to help myself from bringing home plant bits from here and there whether its on a trip, out on a walk, or from my own gardens. I am in awe of the architectural shapes and designs found in nature and I want to have their beauty around me at all times of the year. It is the same with rocks, shells, and sticks. The world is full of beautiful and incredible things and I am constantly amazed by it all.
I bought this homemade display cabinet rather impulsively for $15 at the flea market a few months back. It’s meant to sit flat on a table rather than propped up as I have it now. Davin could not see its potential and wasn’t particularly excited about carrying it all the way to the car, but I persuaded him to give it a chance. I could see his point as the plexiglass front is scratched and worn from its original use as a flea market stall display (it sat flat on a table rather than upright), and the thing is awfully large and heavy. Still, I think he was eating his words once I got it set up and filled with random seedpods, leaves, and dried flowers we have collected over the years.
About a month or so ago, a friend took me on a fleamarket trip out of town where I picked up several treasures that would find new purpose in my garden, including this old cast iron tea pot.
Drilling a hole for drainage was no easy feat. Uli has lots of experience using cast iron as planters and on her suggestion I used a fast-speed bit meant for steel, starting with a small pilot hole and increasing the bit size slowly from there. I was only able to make one hole as I gave my brother our old drill with a cord. Our newer drill is cordless and just doesn’t have the juice to drill through cast iron. I broke a bit in the process of creating this hole and have since given up on trying to make holes in the other rust cast iron cooking pot that I bought that day. They were $10 each, which was a steal as I saw others going for $30.
Since the drainage isn’t great I chose a plant that I felt could handle it. I went with this ‘Grapefruit’ mint since I knew it would quickly drape over the sides and soften the look of the pot further.
And this is what it looks like today!
Here’s a shot of it before I drilled a hole and planted it up.
I came upon this gorgeous Passiflora trifasciata on my first day in Thailand and was completely floored by it. I had no idea that such a gem existed. The leaves look like big bird feet!
Passiflora is known primarily for its gorgeous flowers and deliciously exotic fruit. The leaves have a nice shape, but I find them to be a bit boring overall. I had never seen one before this that is clearly all about the foliage. When given a choice, I tend to favour foliage over flowers. Flowers come and go, but interesting foliage holds your interest almost indefinitely, depending on the plant (and your climate). Being short on space, I prefer to keep plants that give me something to look at for longer periods of time. Ugly, ragged stages of plant development don’t hide well when there is no behind-the-scenes area in which to hide them.
Of course, being a plantoholic through and through, I want one. Immediately. I figure if I can tolerate the inconvenience required to overwinter a very large passionfruit vine with pretty flowers but boring leaves in the hallway outside the door of a cramped apartment for three years running, then surely I can keep this one now that I’ve got more space.
And yet another door is opened. Over the weekend I was chatting with a fellow gardener and thrifting friend about how you can find interest in certain collectibles, but you stay away from buying even one because you don’t want to open the floodgates to a new obsession. It’s okay to admire that jug, bowl, or plant from a distance with a certain amount of interested detachment, but inviting one into your home and life is a dangerous first step towards an appearance on the show Hoarders.
Having more space and an evolving mindset has unleashed the Kraken inside of me, so-to-speak. There are so many plants that I am either going back to with a renewed passion, or am allowing myself to try for the first time ever. Friends, these are interesting, albeit dangerous times.