[Sca-cooks] a book review request

ranvaig at columbus.rr.com ranvaig at columbus.rr.com
Tue Apr 21 20:24:36 PDT 2009

>*A Weaver's Garden: Growing Plants for Natural Dyes and Fibers*
>by Rita Buchanan
>Can you recommend this book, or is it junk?

It is a lovely book, but fairly specialized.  It will depend on what you are looking for. Ms. Buchanan knows her stuff, but is not a scholarly book.  It has a list of suggested readings of general gardening info but not a bibliography.  You wont find documentation here.

It is a gardening book for plants related to weaving and textiles.  Fiber plants, dye plants, soap plants, fragrant plants including insect repellent ones, and plants for fiber tools.  It lists most of the plants that might be grown in a garden, and quite a few fairly exotic ones  Each plant has history, growing information, processing information, and information on use.  Some more detailed than others. 

There are 16 lovely color plates including a color card of natural dyed yarn (I like that she shows bright saturated naturally dyed colors), and quite a few black and white drawings, but it does not have a picture of every plant.   Dover has a paperback edition, but I'm not sure if it has the color plates.  I have the hardbound edition.

There are several garden layouts for a Weaver's garden of various sizes.  There are lists of gardens to visit and seed sources (it was written in 87, so those lists might be out of date).

This is not the first book i would pick if I was looking for information on *using* plants rather than growing them yourself.  It is a pretty complete overview, but if you are primarily interested in a single crop, say growing flax or woad, you can probably find more detailed information elsewhere.

If you are primarily interested in growing *dye plants*, you will find useful information here, but I'd go to her "A Dyer's Garden", which has more information for each plant.   Or get them both.   Amazon has Weavers garden for 8.24 and Dyers garden for 10.17.  Well worth it, IMO.


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