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Historic Hanna's Town

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This is a contributing entry for Historic Hanna's Town and only appears as part of that tour.Learn More.

The dye garden at Historic Hanna's Town is a garden has a representation of the plants that were used to dye fabrics in the 18th century. Dye gardens would typically be held in the kitchen garden along with medicinal plants and herbs. Threads, yarns, and fabrics were dyed using plants that came from the garden and other natural resources.


Dye Garden

Plant, Flower, Road surface, Tree

Dying textiles with natural resources is a prehistoric process. In North America, the Native Americans relied on the land to give them the resources to dye textiles with. Similarly, as settlers came and settled on the frontier, they needed to rely on the land for everything as well, including the plants to dye their clothing. If tensions were low, the Native Americans would often Once fibers of flax or wool were spun, they were able to be dyed using plants and insects found in nature.

Green dyes came from pond scum like protococcus, ulothrix, chaetophora, and spirogyra. Yellow dyes often came from flowers, roots, lichens, a leaf buds on trees in the spring. Red dyes came from insects and poisonous pokeberries and black dyes came from black walnut trees. Once harvested, the dye must be released from the plant usually through a boiling process. Depending on how fresh the plant is will determine the color it releases. Frozen plants may give off a darker color while faded plants will give off a lighter color. Color mixing took place occasionally with green plants being added to give a darker, greenish tint. Mixing colors can be dangerous because the color can easily turn dull.

The people of Hanna's Town made their own clothing which required an extensive knowledge of the skills needed to make textiles including the dying process. The dye garden at Historic Hanna's Town is located outside the Murry-Beacom house in a garden separate to the kitchen garden. Typically, the dye garden would be included in the kitchen garden along with medicinal plants, herbs, and vegetables. Some of the plants included in the dye garden at Historic Hanna's Town are marigolds, cosmos, purple basil, beard tongue, lavender, woad, red madder, baptista, yarrow, coreopsis, and hibiscus.

Native Plant Dyes, U.S. Forest Service. Accessed July 22nd 2021. https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/ethnobotany/dyes.shtml.

Ogg, Kathy J.. Native Dye Plants of the United States, Ethnobotanical Leaflets. Accessed July 22nd 2021. https://opensiuc.lib.siu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=&httpsredir=1&article=1362&context=ebl.