Sunday, 7 September 2014

on the western edge

last week i was on the western edge
[although i will confess now that i did not find time to dip my toe in the ocean]
for another workshop in Jane Flower's splendid shed

this time our work involved shapeshifting
transforming pre-loved garments into celebration dresses
cutting and splicing
delighting in transforming two-dimensional cloth
into something much more complex
Lizzie giving her lovely dress a quick field test
Rona making some adjustments in our 'fitting room'

each afternoon we fired up the cauldrons
so there would be presents to open in the mornings
[thank you Jonathan for collecting all those armfuls of twigs]
the wildflowers at this time of year are spectacular
i think they are [top to bottom]
Diuris brumalis
Caladenia sp
Drosera sp
Anigozanthos manglesii [which happens also to be the state floral emblem]

other local colour was also pretty stunning
work above by Chez
not sure whose the sample above was - but i DO know the roots were harvested on private property as 'salvage botany'

 the south west of our beautiful red island is home to something like 70% of all of the plant varieties on the continent.
but before visitors to this country [or locals for that matter] decide to leap in and avail themselves of this wonderful resource it is worth becoming familiar with the law as regards plant collection.

it is illegal to harvest native plants in the wild anywhere in Australia
- even though the irony is that timber fellers and builders of airports and freeways are permitted to completely destroy forests, wetlands and anything else that gets in their way

in some circumstances it is also illegal to harvest wild plants on private property [unless you can prove that you are a traditional owner...or that you planted them yourself]

and some places that you might think are private property
are actually leased Crown Land [this includes pretty much all of the outback] in which case you can't pick there either
the only plants you can legally take from the wild in Australia are weeds.
or windfalls [but not if they are rare or threatened species]

and if you think you can get away with it, think again
ecoprints make for indisputable evidence!

on the bright side, tip pruning street trees in urban areas
especially where they are overhanging or obstructing paths
might be seen as a community service
[unless, of course, there's a local bylaw...]

i found some of my favourite weeds growing in abundance

my visit to the far west was all too brief
due to an over-filled dance card
next time i wander that way i hope to make a much longer stay
...i'd have liked to see those dresses unbundled, for one thing


  1. "timber fellers and builders of airports and freeways are permitted to completely destroy forests, wetlands and anything else that gets in their way" ---- as are mining magnates and connected developers..... I'd like to eco-print their derrieres with stinging nettles....

  2. lovely clothes , but reading about the low of plants seems very restrict and self contradictory ? here i d.k. i use most wild plant from edge of a ditch or open mark , most people would maybee call it weeds.

  3. yes, the legal restrictions are important to know and respect, and more, as you often remind us. i would add that the native thought is to take only a little (or less) and leave something in reciprocity...i wonder if someday my little earring or a button might land in someone's sand pail at the beach...or become webbed in the root system of a maple.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Republished after fixing slightly impassioned spelling]

      Please please don't take this personally Velma but that small offering is frankly also likely to end up in the gullet of a bird. times have changed. the offerings made by Native Americans in the past were likely bio-degradable just as the packaging in India was bio-degradable until about fifty years ago. while it was fine to throw the banana leaf that wrapped the take-away dosa back into the whirled...the piles of plastic that litter the subcontinent are testament to a demographic mindset that has not changed with the introduction of less destructible [but not less destructive] materials.

      and just how much is "a little"? populations have expanded so much in the last century alone that old standards can no longer be applied. How do we know how many “littles” have aready been taken?

      here in Australia we are down to the last 7% of the forests and scrubland that existed on the continent at the time of the invasion of 1788. We have an irresponsible and money-hungry Prime Minister who appears to have no scruples at all when it comes to exploiting what is left.

      given the number of empty seats on the plane to Perth last week, my walking there instead probably wouldn't have made much of a difference to the planet...but the personal choices we make when it comes to digging up a plant for root colour or leaving it in place and growing a specimen at home instead will, i think, be important in the long run.

      windfalls and weeds, homegrowing and slavage botany are the responsible choices for those of us who profess to practice ecologically sustainable dyeing.

    3. Amen to these statements about our wide brown land (from a fellow Australian)

  4. An experimental sashay in a frock gives a whole new meaning to the term "field testing" - I like it !

  5. How sad to miss the unbundling! My parents are wandering WA at present and sending wonderful pictures of native orchids too... for me, it's back to tip pruning the low hanging street trees of my suburb before anyone can get to them with a chainsaw!

  6. I can feel the excitement of unbundeling the dresses when they come out of the cauldron. It sounds an amazing time.
    Hugs Kay

  7. well, here in Sydney there are new laws about removing trees within 10 m of a house without needing to get council approval - if you are in a new designated fire threat area. so, just follow the sound of the chainsaws!

    1. in Adelaide they're busy removing trees as well...soon it will be back to the hot dusty wasteland i remember from flying in as a child in 1967, when the plane had to refuel on the way to Perth

  8. removing ALL the trees, because of fire threat. Or particularly fire-prone species?

    1. Nothing to do with fire threats. Is because they might drop a branch in a high wind

  9. splendid captures of beauty we long to see.