Alkanet

After a very very (did I say very?) cold Spring the garden is finally starting to look lush and green and full of the promise of early summer.

The Whitebeam buds are finally starting to open…

The Cow Parsley in the ‘lawn’ (I use that word in its loosest possible sense!)  is glorious…I do love Cow Parsley and all its umberlliferous (what a great word!) relatives.

The roses are in bud and the strawberry plants are covered in flowers and small green fruits. The boys, the middle one in particular, are giving us regular updates on their progress and I don’t expect to actually taste many ripe strawberries unless I’m up very early come late June!!

It’s also the exact time that this plant does its wonderful Spring thing…

It’s Green Alkanet, although it took me years to identify it correctly! it is reminiscent of Borage, Comfrey and other hairy, large-leaved, blue flowered relatives but the flowers are much more like Forget-me-nots in the purest cornflower blue with perfect white centres…

It is a member of the Borage family and very closely related to Alkanna Tinctoria – or Dyer’s Bugloss. You see the root can be used as a natural dye to obtain the most amazing greys and silvers…

Especially when in the hands of an expert!

I was prompted to get the camera out and contemplate Alkanet by this wonderful cake of yarn! A customer asked if I would mind winding 800m of Natural Dye Studio ‘Angel’ in ‘Silver’ from skein in to ‘cake’ for her… I was more than happy to oblige and while merrily winding away I happened to be looking out at the Green Alkanet doing it’s ‘thing’ in my borders, along the edges of paths and between paving slabs…

It’s a persistent ‘wild flower’ is Green Alkanet and it’s taken me a while to come to terms with its free range habit 😉 maybe once I’d identified it and realised how closely it is related to the wondrous plant that Amanda uses to make all her fabulous silver yarns it grew on me!

6 thoughts on “Alkanet

  1. Invasive is a polite term to describe it, but both the honey and bumble bees love it, and not a lot else is out, so……

  2. we have lots of g. alkanet in Norwich and i am trying to get the red colour from it but have no precise instructions…..Oil and Alchohol are mentioned but which Oils and Alchohol… Any ideas

    • Hello! I’m not a dyer – just a seller of yarn other clever people have dyed but I think red is obtained from the root of alkanet and it does seem to be Green Alakanet (rather than the alterntive known as dyers Alkanet) that gives red from its roots. I have also seen mention of soaking it in alcohol but beyond that I’m afraid I can’t help! Our garden is currently full of it and while it is undoubtedly a ‘weed’ and very invasive I’m happy to live with it 😉

      • Thanks for the reply, I am experimenting and there is a lot of info on the web and I have found a local lady Val Thomas who has written a book called A Witches Brew that is quite interesting. Regards, Robert

  3. Was just searching about spring wild flowers and came across your blog. Really enjoyed your description of the Green Alkanet, seen some of them on today walk. Striking colour.

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