The final Fibre & Dye walk in the series was held on the warm and sunny afternoon of July 20th. Our journey began at Strathcona Community Centre and continued through MacLean Park, Strathcona Park and the Cottonwood Community Garden. Cottonwood is a rambling garden, full of botanical surprises including established mulberry shrubs, shade tolerant figs, ripening plum trees and a recently, and rather violently, chopped down banana palm.
During the walk, we marvelled at how the parts of Strathcona we were travelling through rapidly moved between wild, cultivated, agricultural and industrial space—there is such a remarkable amount of diversity (plant, animal & cultural) held within a few city blocks. As we walked, we breathed in the pungent oils of aromatic plants, touched the roughness of comfrey and the stickiness of butternut leaves, and absorbed the visual abundance of blooming colour growing along the route. Observing and encountering plant life is not only about looking with our eyes, but also about touching, smelling and tasting—as through full sensory engagement we may more easily build and rebuild complex connections with botanical beings.
Back at Trillium Park we extracted goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) and revisited the dye-bearing potential of tansy (Tanacetum vulgare). Anna and Jennifer wished to re-examine tansy at the height of its blooming period and to compare its colour with goldenrod (our domestic “super dye” plant), which was just entering into flower. Tansy tends to hit warmer yellow notes, while goldenrod is known for bright and lightfast yellows. Neither plant disappointed our expectations!