Coreopsis growing in my garden
This is one of the delights of Autumn in my garden. I love the combination of the yellow of the coreopsis flowers and the deep lavender blue of these michaelmas daisies.
In my earlier post on yellows I made only a passing reference to coreopsis. However, now that I’m enjoying the wonderful glowing yellows of the coreopsis flowers in my garden, it seems appropriate to write a little more about these delightful plants. There are several species of coreopsis and all make good dye plants. Many are perennials and some will spread very rapidly, so caution may be necessary in a small garden. We have had perennial coreopsis in our garden for many years and the wonderful display they give in late Summer and early Autumn more than compensates for any need to remove surplus plants from time to time.
The flowers can be enjoyed while in full bloom and then harvested for the dyepot when the plants are deadheaded. Once the flowering season is over, the whole plant tops can also be used in the dyepot. A dyebath made from the flowers alone will give rich yellows and golds, while the whole plant tops give greener or browner shades. For increased fastness and really bright yellows, I usually use an alum mordant with coreopsis. However, the dye will fix on ummordanted wool, especially when an iron modifier is used, although this shifts the colour towards green or brown. Most species of coreopsis give similar colours, with the exception of the annual plant, dyer’s coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria), which gives shades with a more orange tone. This plant is well worth growing in a flower border for its charming blooms alone, and the colours it gives in the dyepot are an added bonus for dyers.