Category Archives: Fibre dying

Stoepkrijt tijd

For English click here

De laatste tijd hebben een paar vrienden en familie me een zetje gegeven over deze botanische stoepkrijt die momenteel in Europa gaande is.

Ann van City Plot gaf me gisteravond een zetje, wat de laatste strohalm heeft bewezen – het is duidelijk tijd dat we beginnen met meedoen! Wil iemand meedoen met ons?

Hier zijn een paar dingen die we vandaag in de stad hebben gekrijt …

Overblijvende ossentong (Pentaglottis sempervirens) Green Alkanet

Er gaat niets boven een naamplaatje om mensen te helpen beseffen wat er onder hun neus groeit terwijl ze door de straten lopen.

Smalle weegree (Plantago lanceolata) Ribwort

Veel van ons kennen de waarde van de planten die de meeste mensen onkruid noemen. We zijn gepassioneerd door mensen die beseffen wat er kan worden gedaan met planten die om hen heen groeien en zorgen voor de planten die van nature groeien in vergeten ruimtes.

Grote weegbree (Plantago major) Plantain

Meestal willen we niet van trottoirs oogsten of foerageren, maar die stedelijke kruiden en groenten kunnen een bron zijn van gratis zaad, stekjes, startplanten en leerplanten.

Lindenboom (Tilia sp.) Lime tree

Hier is een Grote stinkende gouwe die ik vorige week uit een stoeptegelscheur trok en nu op mijn dak groeit voor een huismiddeltje en een leerplant. Het gele sap binnenin heeft verschillende toepassingen.

Stinkende gouwe (Chelidonium majus) Greater celandine

Als je niet zeker bent van de naam van de plant, stuur me dan een duidelijke foto via Whatsapp of e-mail van en ik stuur je de plantnaam. 06 275 969 30

Ik zou ook graag je gelabelde planten zien en zal hier graag wat foto’s plaatsen, en op het Urban Herbology Facebook pagina.


Chalk and talk

Voor nederlands klik hier

Lately, a few friends and family have nudged me about this botanical street chalking that’s going on in Europe right now.

Ann from City Plot gave me a nudge last night which has proved the final straw –  it’s clearly time that we start to join in the fun!

Anyone in?

Here are a couple that we did today across town…

Green alkanet (Pentaglottis sempervirens)

Nothing like a name tag to help people realise what’s growing under their noses as they walk around the streets.

Smalle weegree (Plantago lanceolata) Ribwort

Many of us know the value of the plants which most people call weeds. We are passionate about people realising what can be done with plants growing around them and looking after the plants which naturally grow in forgotten spaces.

Grote weegree (Plantago major) Plantain

Mostly, we won’t want to harvest or forage from pavements but those urban herbs and veggies can be a source of free seed, cuttings, starter plants and teaching plants.

Lindenboom (Tilia sp.) Lime tree

Here’s a Greater celandine which I pulled from a pavement crack last week and now grows on my roof for a home remedy and teaching plant. The yellow sap inside has several uses.

Greater celandine (Chelidonium majus) Stinkende gouw

It you’re not sure of the name of the plant, feel free to send me a clear photo by What’s app or email and I’ll send you the plant name. 06 275 969 30

I’d love to see your labelled plants too and will happily post some photos here, and on the Urban Herbology FaceBook page.

365 Frankendael day 327


Walking home from work today, I found some stunning catkin laden branches, lying beneath a street tree. The male catkins of this tree are very long and very colourful. I decided to take some of the fallen branches home. I then removed most of the catkins (to preserve the energy expenditure of the branch) and split it up into manageable pieces. Some of the lower bark from each branchlet needed to be scraped back and then each was placed in a vase of water. I have hopes that a few of the small branches will send out roots and become new plants.

The street tree that these branches came from is an Italian Alder (Alnus cordata), apparently a popular street tree due to the catkins, its overall beauty and vigour.

It’s possible to find beautiful cones, inconspicuous female flowers and the enormous male catkins, as well as large leaf buds, all at the same time. I was pleased to see that today. Alder is the only deciduous tree to bear cones.

Alder is linked to much folklore and tradition. It’s a wonderful tree with many uses. Look up Glennie Kindred, particularly her Earth Wisdom book, for lots of information about this tree (and others). It produces several beautiful dyes. The leaves are usefully made into a cooling, soothing poultice or compress for swellings. Much like Plantain (Plantago sp), the leaves can cool and soothe the weary feet of travelers, by simply placing them inside of footwear.

365 Frankendael day 150

Thank you to the group of Urban Herbies who joined me For the Elder Workshop today. We harvested Elderberries, Elder leaves and Elder branches. We learned about and concocted Elderberry syrup and numerous other Elder based remedies. I had a lot of fun with you all, and the plants!

I was so busy enjoying the time that I forgot to take an Elder photo so here’s one of the syrup that we made together, from freshly pressed Elderberry juice and honey… It’s a clean but scrappy looking jam jar. That doesn’t matter as my portion of the syrup will be wolfed down very quickly!

As well as Elderberries, there are heaps of ripe Hawthorn berries in the city hedgerows at present. I did remember to take a photo of one such tree. It’s time to try out the Hawthorn recipes, kindly sent to me by one of the Amstel walkers earlier this year.

Here’s a link to the recipe for the Banana bread I baked for the workshop. I added a finely chopped 20cm Ginger plant leaf and I forgot to add the dates. All fine though!

Here’s a link to that information about recent scientific research supporting the use of Ghee and Honey impregnated wound dressings for serious wound recovery.

Thanks Nathaniel and Jade for sharing with us how the Native Americans revere their local Elder species. Here’s a link with a little information about that (at the end). Here’s a link with lots of information about Elder, particularly the US growing species. Not much about the indigenous people but lots of useful stuff.

Here’s a link to one of my mentors: Glennie Kindred in Britain. She wrote the hand sewn books I showed you today. We looked at the one called Sacred Tree in which Glennie lays out her interpretation of the Tree Ogham.

As we talked about honey, Katja shared her latest concoction – fresh ginger infused honey with lemon juice. Yum! I’ll be trying that very soon and will post some photos to brighten up the autumn. Maybe Katja has a photo of hers already?

Cindy, I don’t think you took your portion of ointment and certainly not the syrup. I also forgot to give you the Kombucha so let me know when you have time to collect them.

Thanks again everyone. See you again soon! xx

Claudy Jongstra – Plant Dyed Fibres at De Hortus

I dream of using wool from my own sheep, dyed with herbs, to make my own clothes. Last year I bought some Woad, Safflower, Indigo and Weld seeds and last week I finally got around to sewing them indoors. Hopefully I’ll be able to harvest at least a little from each plant some time soon and will then have a go at dyeing some shop bought yarn.

De Hortus Botanicus, Amsterdam boasts some beautiful, plant dyed wool, produced by acclaimed artist Claudy Jongstra. I saw them today, hanging on the walls of the Orangerie cafe, looking like perfect marble walls. The newly refurbished shop at De Hortus also sells some of her work and it is a real pleasure to see.

Do have a look at Claudy’s website if you are interested in making plant dyed wool into items of fascination and beauty. It has certainly inspired me to encourage those seedlings to grow!

Herbs for Natural Dyeing

On the recent Amsterdam Herb Walk, we talked a little about using herbs as natural fibre dyes.  There are a great number of native herbs which can be used to create beautiful colours.  Some are long lasting others tend to fade over time.  I love the idea of dyeing wool for knitting projects and have a lovely book on the subject by Jenny Dean. Previously I have collected bags full of onion skins with the intention of dyeing a skein of wool but have never quite got around to it.  This week, spurred on by the conversation, I have been looking for something a little more colourful to brew up in the dye vat.  There are some very useful blogs online, particularly from the USA.  Woad blues and Madder pinks and reds are, I think, amongst the most beautiful.  Many of the herbs can be found locally and seeds are available from specialist sources for the more unusual.

Here’s a list of colours and plants, to wet the appetite of  those who enjoy creating natural colour. It is adapted from the Blue Castle Fibre Arts website. It is not an exhaustive list and if you hover on the photos I have added, you’ll see some other possibilities.  You’ll also see that many of the dyes come from plant roots (e.g. madder) or protected species (e.g. lichens), so not so practical for the urban forager, unless you can grow your own.  Another very useful site is the Californian Backyard Dyer blog.  There are many more, full of tips about how to set about natural dyeing with herbs. I’d love to hear from anyone who has tried natural dyeing (or wants to) on a small scale and am determined that my next wooly jumper will be hand-dyed from a plant I have grown myself.


 Birch (Betula alba) Fresh inner bark

Bed-straw (Gallium boreale) Roots

Common Sorrel (Rumex acetosa) Roots

Dyer’s Woodruff (Asperula tinctoria) Roots

Evergreen Alkanet (Anchusa sempervirens)

Gromwell (Lithospermum arvense)

Lady’s Bedstraw (Gallium verum) Roots

Marsh Potentil (Potentilla Comarum) Roots

Madder (Rubia Tinctorum) Roots

Potentil (Potentilla Tormentilla) Roots


Devil’s Bit (Scabiosa succisa) Leaves prepared like woad

Dog’s Mercury (Mercurialis perennis)

Elder (Sambucus nigra) Berries

Indigo (Indigofera tintoria)

Privet (Ligustrum vulgare) Berries with alum and salt

Red bearberry (Arctostaphylos Uva-Ursi)

Sloe (Prunus communis) Fruit

Whortleberry or Blaeberry (Vaccinium Myrtillus) Berries

Woad (Isatis tinctoria)

Yellow Iris (Iris Pseudacorus) Roots


Agrimony (Agrimonia Eupatoria)

Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) Fresh inner bark

Barberry (Berberis vulgaris) Stem and root

Birch. Leaves

Bog Asphodel (Narthecium ossifragum)

Bog Myrtle or Sweet Gale (Myrica Gale)

Bracken (Pteris aquilina) Roots, also young tops

Bramble (Rubus fructicosus)

Broom (Sarothammus Scoparius)

Buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula and R. cathartica) Berries and Bark

Common dock (Rumex obtusifolius) Root

Crab Apple (Pyrus Malus) Fresh inner bark

Dyer’s Greenwood (Genista tinctoria) Young shoots and leaves

Gorse (Ulex Europæus) Bark, flowers and young shoots

Heath (Erica vulgaris) With Alum

Hedge stachys (Stachys palustris)

Hop (Humulus lupulus)

Hornbeam (Carpinus Betulus) Bark

Kidney Vetch (Anthyllis Vulnararia)

Ling (Caluna vulgaris)

Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris)

Marsh potentil (Potentilla Comarum)

Meadow Rue (Thalictrum flavum)

Nettle (Urtica) With Alum

Pear, Leaves


Polygonum Hydropiper

Polygonum Persecaria

Poplar, Leaves

Privet (Ligustrum vulgare) Leaves

St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)

Sawwort (Serratula tinctoria)

Spindle tree (Euonymus Europæus)

Stinking Willy, or Ragweed (Senecio Jacobæa)

Sundew (Drosera)

Teasel (Dipsacus Sylvestris)

Way-faring tree (Viburnum lantana) Leaves

Weld (Reseda luteola)

Willow, Leaves

Yellow Camomile (Anthemis tinctoria)

Yellow Centaury (Chlora perfoliata)

Yellow Corydal (Corydalis lutea)


Elder (Sambucus nigra) Leaves with alum

Flowering reed (Phragmites communis) Flowering tops, with iron

Larch. Bark, with alum

Lily of the valley (Convalaria majalis) Leaves

Nettle (Urtica dioica and U. Urens)

Privet (Ligustrum vulgare) Berries and leaves, with alum


Alder (Alnus glutinosa) Bark

Birch (Betula alba) Bark

Hop (Humulus lupulus) Stalks give a brownish red colour

Onion, Skins

Larch, Pine needles, collected in Autumn

Oak (Quercus Robur) Bark

Red currants, with alum

Walnut, Root and green husks of nut

Water Lily (Nymphæa alba) Root

Whortleberry (Vaccinium Myrtillus) Young shoots, with nut galls

Dulse (Seaweed)



Byrony (Byronia dioica) Berries

Damson, Fruit, with alum

Dandelion (Taraxacum Dens-leonis) Roots

Danewort (Sambucus Ebulus) Berries

Deadly nightshade (Atropa Belladonna)

Elder (Sambucus nigra) Berries, with alum, a violet; with alum and salt, a lilac colour

Sundew (Drosera)

Whortleberry or blaeberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) It contains a blue or purple dye which will dye wool and silk without mordant


Alder (Alnus glutinosa) Bark, with iron

Blackberry (Rubus fruticosus) Young shoots, with salts of iron

Dock (Rumex) Root

Elder (Sambucus nigra) Bark, with iron

Iris (Iris Pseudacorus) Root

Meadowsweet (Spirea Ulmaria)

Oak, Bark and acorns

I’m off to order some Woad and Indigo seed now …