September 23, 2021

Coloring with garden flowers

This summer I made some flower paints from my garden. In this blog post, I will share my paint notes and color samples for three-color buddleja (butterfly bush), yarrow and rose flowers.

1632385929 52 Coloring with garden flowers Rebecca Desnos

I used cellulose fabric for all the samples – organic cotton, bamboo viscose and linen. Aluminum paint containers have been used everywhere. Botanical Color at your fingertips According to the usual method in my book, all the pieces are pre-treated with soy milk (available in print and e-book).

1632385929 549 Coloring with garden flowers Rebecca Desnos


Over the years, I painted buddleja several times and each time diligently made bright yellows. As I moved from the southeast to the southwest of England, I was thrilled to discover that we had our own buddleja bush in our garden.

1632385929 719 Coloring with garden flowers Rebecca Desnos

I filled my paint pot with a few purple flowers and covered it with enough water to soak the plants, and then used the usual coloring method for flowers, which I used to heat very gently. I never boil flowers – I try to keep the heat below boiling point. The goal is to soften the color of the plants, rather than cooking them. This method has always given me bright shades of buddleja.

Well, on this occasion, the paint took on a fuzzy green, swampy color. I admit that it was a disappointment. I thought that the buddleja, as in other cases, will release the yellow paint without effort. I also took a small handful of flowers and tried again – this time at a lower temperature. Maybe I would let the first pot get too hot and accidentally burn the flowers. I was surprised that I made almost the same color. I painted my tampons on this second coat of paint and decided to accept the shade as it was.

1632385929 285 Coloring with garden flowers Rebecca Desnos

The previous owner of our house loved buddleja because we also knew we had a darker purple and white bush. Of course, I had to try them on my paintbrush, and both of them made a bright yellow paint that is known for its buddleja flowers.

1632385930 727 Coloring with garden flowers Rebecca Desnos

1632385930 499 Coloring with garden flowers Rebecca Desnos


Most of the lawns in my new garden are covered with yarrow. Maybe a weed for many, but as plant lovers we know it’s something else! Yarrow is a very special plant with various medicinal purposes, and the flower is loved by insects.

Now I must admit that I did not have high hopes for yarrow. I dreamed that it would give a light yellow color, and I wondered if it was even worth trying. How wrong could I be ?!

1632385930 634 Coloring with garden flowers Rebecca Desnos

Since the stems are very stiff and woody, I decided to paint them only with the tops of the flowers. I cut off the heads of the flowers and put them on a tray for a few hours to allow the insects to crawl. Then I used my usual coloring method for flowers – I filled the paint pot with enough water to keep the plants submerged and heated very gently for about 30 minutes. Then I left the lid open and allowed the flowers to soak overnight.

The next morning the paint was a yellowish shade as I expected. I decided to reheat it very gently, then left the flowers to soak for a longer time. So far no one was able to send in the perfect solution, which is not strange. I had no choice but to soak until the next day. Until then, a big surprise awaited me – the yellow color turned green!

1632385930 804 Coloring with garden flowers Rebecca Desnos

After filtering the flowers, I got a very nice green paint. I was amazed! Several models have also been added, such as a cotton vest. I made sure I didn’t overheat, so I kept the temperature to a minimum and didn’t even allow it to boil. After soaking in the warm dye overnight (the lid keeps the dye warm for hours!), I was thrilled to discover that the fabric was all dyed in a beautiful soft green shade. I squeezed the paint well, then let the pieces dry. I waited a few days before washing the paint, then quickly washed the clothes in the washing machine. In the end, everything was still a beautiful shade of greenery.

1632385930 975 Coloring with garden flowers Rebecca Desnos

Although I haven’t done any color strength tests on this paint yet, it was too exciting for me to stop starting with another paint container. So I collected a basket of yarrow flowers from the garden – this time from another place near the house. I allowed the insects to crawl, and then I started working to remove the paint.

1632385930 996 Coloring with garden flowers Rebecca Desnos

Shockingly, the paint turned brown very early. I was very disappointed! Did I allow the paint to heat up? (I didn’t think so – it was the lowest temperature of all time). I wanted to pour the paint, but put the flowers upright until noon the next day, filtered the plants and added another dress. I was completely waiting for it to turn brown, which seemed to have dropped a bit. I heated the paint and soaked it for several hours. It looked brown when I took it out – it was a kind of blurred yellow / green / brown shade and I wasn’t in love with it. I squeezed the paint and hung it to dry overnight.

The next morning I was shocked to see it. In fact, it was very green! It wasn’t exactly the same shade of green as the first round of yarrow dyeing, but it was definitely green! I left it for a few days, then I already washed the paint and washed it quickly in the car. It was even greener at this point – I was excited about the results!

You can see the following result from the first paint container on the left and the second paint container on the right:

1632385930 633 Coloring with garden flowers Rebecca Desnos

What I have learned from this experience is that we should never try to predict the outcome until it is over. My university tutor (when I was studying Interior and Spatial Design) always told us not to “end the game,” where we try to predict the end before we get there. Well, that’s what I do in this situation! I almost spilled the paint on the fabric without trying on the color, in fact, the final color of the fabric was beautiful.

Each paint pot will teach us something new and no trial is a waste of time!


Our garden is mostly wild and overgrown, and I was thrilled to see a beetle throwing its tall spears among Japanese anemones. Goldenrod is considered an invasive weed for many, but as a natural dye, I know it is a beautiful dye plant! Of course, it has some medicinal properties, so it is a very useful plant.

After the last two paint pot surprises with Buddleja and yarrow, I didn’t know what to expect from the gold bar. I decided to choose a few flower tops to try in a small amount of water. I covered it with about an inch of water and heated it very gently for about 15 minutes. To my surprise, the paint had almost turned neon yellow! I quickly cut a piece of cotton and added it to the hot dye. I returned about half an hour later and it was painted bright yellow.

The next day I collected a larger flower pot and heated it gently again. The paint was light yellow, but I did a lot of work – cooking rice at the same time – and accidentally boiled the gold paint! The paint turned sadly brown, but interestingly it still turned yellow. After overheating the paint, it did not turn green as it had the day before.

1632385930 75 Coloring with garden flowers Rebecca Desnos

There seem to be a variety of factors that affect the color of gold paint: low heat will stimulate greens, and many people say that the tops of young flowers turn green, and more mature flower heads turn deeper yellow. I have to try it at the end of the season to see it.

I feel that the colors are more saturated on the protein fibers (silk and wool), because I have never been able to achieve the deep golden shades created by other people. I am very pleased with the delicate greens I have prepared.

1632385931 451 Coloring with garden flowers Rebecca Desnos

Use plants at your fingertips!

Similarly it is said in the title of my first book, let’s examine the botanists at our fingertips. Whether you have your own garden or a nearby forest or park, research your local plants and see what you can try in your paint pot. I always value every test and learn something new, no matter what the outcome. Only choose plants that you are sure you can identify and are not poisonous. You do not want to be frustrated if you cannot get the right pitch so invest in a good capo. Enjoy your projects!

1632385932 187 Coloring with garden flowers Rebecca Desnos
Dyeing and Fabrics, Uncategorized
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