Skip to Content

A Garden to Dye For


When I found out that Christ McLaughlin, author of Vertical Vegetable Gardening: A Living Free Guide, was writing a new book on growing a dye garden, I knew I wanted to read it. So, I beggged and pleaded asked nicely if I could review her book and she was so wonderful to send me a pdf copy. But don’t worry all the opinions are mine.

I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting from A Garden to Dye For, but the book is not what I expected. It was so much more!  Each and every page is beautiful. This is one book that you’ll want to own the physical book not just the Kindle book. I was a little nervous taking my Kindle into the bubble bath to read this book – I did it anyway, but it wasn’t as relaxing.

When Chris set out to write this book, this was her goal..

“The goal, therefore, is not to attmept to share every scientific formula that includes every possible outcome. Instead, I want to encourage every person who pics up this book to try dying with plants.” (page xii – Introduction)

At least for me, her goal was met with this book. I find myself wondering if I can use a certain plant to dye with and what color would it make all the time now.

Chris starts the book out with vocabulary because the hard part of learning any new skill is really getting a handle on the terminology, isn’t it? She talks about variances is shades will happen and you need to just roll with it. Everything affects the end result. I kind of like that, as the idea of dying with plants is to have fun, not to get an exact color. I can do that with Rit. That’s not to say that this book is lacking in instruction, because it’s not. Chris is very detailed about how to extract the dyes to get the best color. She lists the equipment you will need ( I had all of it already in my kitchen.)

One by one Chris lists plants that can be used to make dye. With each one she talks about the plant and how to grow it. Then she talks about where to find the color – petals, fruit, skins, bark, leaves. You’ll get a different color depending on what part of the plant you use.

And then there are the projects and pictures of projects. How about some dyed play silks or a silk shirt? Or some tie dye? When I think of dying something I always think of fabrics. But not Chris, she thinks of fun things for the kids and artists in your life.

One very cool thing is the section on planning out a dye garden. I’m pretty utilitarian so I would never think of having a Formal Rose Dye Garden or a beautifully laid out Cutting Dye Garden. Chris has plans for these specific gardens and several more included in the book.

All in all, this will be a book that I refer back to quite often. I can’t wait to spend some time this summer with my children creating some pretty fun things for Christmas gifts.

If you’re interested in ordering A Garden to Dye For by Chris McLaughlin you can click here.

Have you ever used plant dyes for anything? Tell us about it in the comments.


Thanks for sharing with your friends!