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‘Of the Ground’

Plymouth textile experts partner with National Trust to launch sustainable dye garden
Of the Ground project

Academics and students specialising in textile design at Arts University Plymouth have created a new plant garden for natural dye as part of their project ‘Of the Ground’.

The project is developed in collaboration with National Trust Saltram, one of the South West’s most loved National Trust properties, and sited at Plymouth’s community farm, Poole Farm, based in Derriford Community Park.

Heritage-informed planting

The project is the brainchild of Emma Gribble, BA (Hons) Textiles Design course leader and textile designer.

Closely supported in the planning and planting stages by technical demonstrator Fiona Lloyd, Emma led her students in work to establish a natural dye garden at Poole Farm, combining Arts University Plymouth’s commitment to teaching sustainable processes with the use of local heritage-informed planting.
The National Trust supported the project research and shared a planting list from Saltram’s archives, containing details of species used in the creation of the house’s original garden.

The use of heritage-inspired plants will create a colour palette firmly rooted in Saltram and its surrounding landscape.

As the ‘Of the Ground’ dye garden matures through the seasons, it will become a permanent resource, available for all Arts University Plymouth students to use. The range of colours it produces will be specific and unique to the local landscape.

‘As international awareness grows of how harmful many synthetic dyes can be to the natural world, I believe strongly that educators working within the textile and fashion industries have a responsibility to lead the way in teaching students alternative dye methods that are more sustainable and less damaging to the environment.

‘This new partnership with National Trust Saltram actively investigates this. The project tests on a small scale how Arts University Plymouth can lead the way in encouraging students and textile practitioners to make more balanced decisions by building knowledge and awareness about alternative dye methods.’

 Textile designer

Planting for spring

The textile design students and academics, who will manage the dye garden on an ongoing basis, recently visited the garden to plant and sow seeds in preparation for spring.

They were joined by volunteers and staff from Poole Farm and the National Trust, with expert guidance on planting from Dr Martin Stott, head gardener at Saltram.

Planted in raised beds, the ‘Of the Ground’ dye garden will include a variety of plants such as woad, dyer’s coreopsis, daffodils, weld, marigolds, tansy and madder, all sourced by local suppliers in the South West.

The plants were chosen in consultation with natural dye plant experts Nature’s Rainbow and natural dye guru Jane Deane.

The beds were designed and constructed by the staff and volunteers at Poole Farm, including an accessible bed for wheelchair users.

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