2019 (Georgia Native Plants) Potted Garden

When I began gardening, I grew for food, then my focus shifted to dye plants, and this year, native pollinators. No herbicides, no pesticides, all in pots (because I’m a renter). Yes, I realize that most of the plants I have “may not survive…or thrive?” in pots because they have, very importantly, lots of roots, long roots. I guess we will call this an experiment.

I wanted to write this post to share the native Georgia plants I’ve decided to cultivate and the pollinators they’ll help to sustain.

Majority of this information came from two INCREDIBLE websites: www.illinoiswildflowers.info & www.wildflower.org

I purchased all of my native plants from the Native Plant Sale put on by The Georgia Native Plant Society.
I also did research beforehand, knowing exactly which plants I wanted to purchase, from reading the wonderful blog, Using Georgia Native Plants. (they also have a great instagram @usinggeorgianativeplants)

Here we go:


(Monarda didyma) Scarlet Beebalm, Oswego Tea, Red Bergamot
Mint Family - perennial - blooms from late spring to early summer - moist, sun to part shade - larval host to The Gray Marvel moth, Hermit Sphynx moth and Pyralid moth - attracts hummingbirds, Swallowtail butterflies, and probably bumblebees.


(Symphyotrichum georgianum) Georgia Aster
Aster Family - perennial - blooms in October and November - drought tolerant, full sun - In the wild, the Georgia Aster depends on natural disturbance, such as wildfires. The Georgia Aster is a threatened species. This plant community has been largely destroyed or degraded by fire suppression, the removal of certain large grazing mammals, road construction and herbicide application. Only 104 populations are estimated to remain. - attracts by various bees, butterflies, flies and wasps.


(Rudbeckia hirta) Black-eyed Susan
Aster Family - annual - blooms summer to fall - dry to moist, full sun - larval host to Gorgone Checkerspot butterflies and Bordered Patch butterflies - attracts a wide range of insects, particularly bees and flies, as well as some wasps, butterflies, and beetles. The bees collect pollen or suck nectar and include Little Carpenter bees, Leaf-Cutting bees, Green Metallic and other Halictine bees, Andrenid bees, Syrphid flies, Bee flies, and Tachinid flies. - good dye plant


(Aquilegia canadensis) Eastern Red Columbine, Wild Red Columbine
Buttercup Family - perennial - blooms fall to early summer - dry to moist, part shade to shade - larval host to the Columbine Duskywing butterflies, border Moth, Columbine Sawfly and several species of Leaf Miner Flies - attracts bumblebees and the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird. Short-tongued Halictid bees collect pollen from the flowers, but they are less effective at cross-pollination.


(Sanguinaria canadensis) Bloodroot
Poppy Family - perennial - blooms in March and April - moist to wet, part shade to shade - seeds dispersed by ants - attracts honeybees, bumblebees, little carpenter bees, Halictid bees, and Andrenid bees. Other insects that visit the flowers include Syrphid flies and beetles, which feed on the pollen - root can be used as a natural dye.


(Lobelia cardinalis) Cardinal Flower
Bellflower Family - perennial - blooms early summer to early fall - moist to wet, sun to part shade to shade - larval host to Pink-Washed Looper Moths and polyphagous fly - attracts the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird and various Swallowtail butterflies, including such species Black Swallowtail, Spicebush Swallowtail and Pipevine Swallowtail. Sometimes the larger bumblebees will steal nectar through slits in the tubular corolla. Halictid bees sometimes gather pollen, but they are ineffective at pollination.


(Geranium maculatum) Wild Geranium
Geranium Family - perennial - blooms spring to summer - moist, part shade to shade - larval host to Bridled Arches Geranium Budworm Moths, Tobacco Budworm Moths and Omnivorous Leafroller Moths -attracts bumblebees, mason bees, cuckoo bees, long-horned bees, Halictid bees, Andrenid bees and other bees. An Andrenid bee, Andrena distans, is a specialist pollinator (oligolege) of Wild Geranium. The flowers also attract Syrphid flies, dance flies, butterflies, and skippers.


(Asclepias incarnata) Swamp Milkweed
Milkweed Family - perennial - blooms summer to fall - moist to wet, part shade to sun - larval host to Monarch butterflies and Queen butterflies - attracts bumblebees, honeybees, long-horned bees, Halictid bees, Sphecid wasps, Vespid wasps, Tiphiid wasps, Spider wasps, Mydas flies, thick-headed flies, Tachinid flies, Swallowtail butterflies, Greater Fritillaries, Monarch butterflies and skippers. Another occasional visitor of the flowers is the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird.


(Cirsium altissimum) Tall Thistle
Aster Family - biennial - blooms late summer to early fall - dry to moist, part shade to sun - pollinated by bumblebees, long-horned bees, Fritillary butterflies, Painted Lady butterflies, Swallowtail butterflies and Sphinx moths, including hummingbird clearwing moths. The pollen also attracts Halictid bees and other bees, Syrphid flies, and various beetles. (SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS ONE)


(Fragaria virginiana) Wild Strawberry
Rose Family - perennial - blooms April, May and June - dry, sun part shade - The ecological value of Wild Strawberry to various insects, birds, and animals is high - larval host to Grizzled Skipper moths,Gray Hairstreak butterflies, Strawberry Cylindrical Gall Wasp among many others - attracts little carpenter bees, cuckoo bees, mason bees, Halictid bees (including green metallic bees), Halictid cuckoo bees, Andrenid bees, Syrphid flies, thick-headed flies, Tachinid flies, bottle flies, flesh flies, small butterflies, and skippers.


(Zizia aurea) Golden Alexander
Carrot Family - perennial - blooms spring to summer - moist, sun to part shade - larval host to Black Swallowtail butterflies and Ozark Swallowtail butterflies - attracts short-tongued bees including Green Metallic bees, Masked bees and Andrenid bees. Wasp visitors include Eumenine wasps, spider wasps, Ichneumonid wasps and Crabronine wasps. Long-tongued bees include bumblebees and cuckoo bees, also some small butterflies and true bugs.

Also - A few other plants (I did not get these from the plant sale):

(Coreopsis tinctoria) Plains Coreopsis, Golden Tickseed, Goldenwave, Calliopsis
Aster Family - annual - blooms April, May, June - moist, part shade, sun - larval host to Wavy-Lined Emerald moths and Dimorphic Gray moths - provides nectar and pollen to a wide variety of insects, including long-tongued bees, short-tongued bees, wasps, flies, butterflies, skippers, and beetles. Another insect that feeds on the foliage of these species is the leaf beetle, (Calligrapha californica), which has been found specifically on Plains Coreopsis - flower blossoms used for dyeing

(Tagetes erecta) Mexican marigold, Aztec marigold, African Marigold
Aster Family - annual or perennial - native to Central America - attracts bees, moths, butterflies, bee flies and wasps - flower blossoms used for dyeing

(Brugmansia) Angel Trumpet
Nightshade Family - large shrub/small tree - blooms spring to fall - moist, part shade to sun - very toxic - larval host to Skippers, Giant Leopard Moths and Hawkmoths - attracts pollinating moths, bees and other insects.

(Anethum graveolens) Dill
Carrot Family - annual - allelopathic to most garden plants, inhibiting growth, causing to bolt, or actually killing many plants - young dill is a good companion plant to tomatoes, while mature dill is a terrible companion plant for tomatoes - larval host to Black Swallowtail butterflies and Anise Swallowtail butterflies - attracts hoverflies, predatory parasitic wasps (and also Tomato Hornworms)

Allelopathy is a biological phenomenon by which an organism produces one or more biochemicals through their roots that influence the germination, growth, survival, and reproduction of other organisms.

(Cynara scolymus) Globe artichoke
I planted two of these last year and the survived the winter. Really hoping they bloom this year? May be stunted because of their pots though…

(Lycopersicon esculentum) Black Krim Tomatoes
I plant to pot two separate pots of tomatoes. One for eating and one for cultivating TOMATO HORNWORMS.

Attract tomato hornworms and have them go through complete metamorphosis and witness that beautiful hawkmoth sip from my Brugmansia. Also, attract parasitic wasps and …well… you know. I also hope to see a Black Swallowtail because I have ALL THE PLANTS FOR THEM.

I’ll keep you updated. Although, if you’d like a more timely update, you should follow me on instagram @jamiebourgeois

Moths Matter - Bell Armoire feature

The Moth Series scarves have been featured in the Summer issue of Bell Armoire! Get yourself a copy and check out the many many other talented makers featured in this issue!


Moths Matter    

The Moth series scarves were born out of a curiosity and passion for the exploration of the natural dye process. They also represent an integral part of the manifesto of my work, which reflects a central belief that the earth is a living organism upon which every living entity depends on every other living entity for its survival; a concept of no singular species holding the most importance, humans included. The more familiar a person is with something, the more knowledge they gain of it and the more value they place on it, meaning the more fervently they may fight to protect it. Through my illustrations of non-human organisms — moths, in the case of these scarves — I’m hoping to plant the seeds of familiarity, knowledge, and value for less appreciated species, in order to preserve and strengthen the delicate balance of their ecosystems. We can’t positively identify the complete effects a particular species has on its surroundings until it is no longer there. With that being said, I strive for my concepts and art-making practices to be congruous with one another. Through my dedication to translating my illustrations onto natural fibers by harnessing the powers of plant color, I am able to make sure that my practices are as low-impact as possible. I utilize plants from my immediate area by collecting food scraps, harvesting leaves, flowers, nuts, and berries from the local landscape, and growing plants I know to be good dye material. In order to put less waste into the world, every scrap of material I purchase is used in some way. I am constantly researching materials and techniques to ensure that I am developing work using the most ethical goods and processes with the least amount of environmental impact. I believe that the process is just as important as the concept, which is as important as the final product.

I choose to send my concepts and ideas out into the world via utilitarian objects so they may be used as daily reminders to the user and maybe, hopefully, as a conversation starter. Moths are important pollinators, many for nocturnal bloomers. Artificial lights distract moths and prevent them from pollinating plants that depend on them for reproduction. We can mitigate this by using colored light bulbs, installing outdoor motion sensor lighting, or putting a cloth or a net (maybe a naturally dyed silk Moth scarf) around the light. We can also help the populations of moth species, as well as other important pollinators, by planting local wildflowers in our yards and by continuing the conversation of their importance with our loved ones and community.


Constructing the Moth Series

I began the Moth series with questions about the science behind natural dyes in mind and techniques I wanted to learn. My primary technique for applying plant color to fabric is through a process called eco-bundling. The plant is placed on wet pre-mordanted fabric, rolled, secured, steamed, and then left to sit for a number of days or weeks. Within this step, I conducted pH balance tests to see how the plant color would be modified in the bundling process. The bundles were then unwrapped and washed. I made a natural dye print paste and used it to screen-print the illustration of moths on each square of silk. The squares were then steamed and washed. At this point, some of the silk squares were deemed finished. I then selected a few to do mordant modification tests, and a few to be batiked and dyed in an organic indigo vat. To finish each silk square, I hand-rolled or hemmed each piece.


My lovely model, Olivia Rose, is also a wonderful photographer.  Click here to check out her work!

pH test : eco-bundle

Normally, when I eco-bundle, I douse the fabric in vinegar, throw in some flora, roll, secure, steam, and wait. I've gotten some pretty beautiful results in my haphazard way of doing things, but these days I'm becoming more curious about the chemistry and reason behind it all. I've known about pH modifiers since the beginning, but never paid to much attention to it, until recently when I started an indigo vat... results from that later...

Because I had 10 yards of silk to dye for new scarves, I decided to do an experiment with how varying the pH in the bundle might affect the color extracted from the plant materials.

I used 8mm silk habotai: scoured and mordanted with alum + cream of tartar. 

On the Left side of every image you will see results from a pH of around 4 to 5. To get this I diluted white vinegar in tap water. On the Right side of every image you will see results from a pH of around 9 or 10. To get this I diluted soda ash in tap water. Each bundle sat over night and were steamed for about an hour the next day, then left to sit (wrapped in plastic to retain moisture) for six days.  Each piece of fabric was unbundled and left to dry on the line, then steam ironed. I have NOT washed any of the fabric yet, as I want to let them cure for a few days.  


What I have noticed is that a lower pH achieves a much more crisp and defined print from each plant, EXCEPT from the carrot tops. And all of the colors are a bit warmer when compared to the colors achieved from the higher pH bundles. The higher pH bundles gave greener shades and seemed to allow the color to disperse a bit more into the fabric. 

Here are the results:

carrot tops. dried rose leaves. fresh stinging nettle leaves.

carrot tops. dried rose leaves. fresh stinging nettle leaves.

red onion skins

red onion skins

hibiscus. locally harvested and frozen + dehydrated/dried store bought 

hibiscus. locally harvested and frozen + dehydrated/dried store bought 

dried marigolds (mostly what you see here). dried coreopsis. dried/frozen goldenrod.

dried marigolds (mostly what you see here). dried coreopsis. dried/frozen goldenrod.

yellow onion skins

yellow onion skins

fresh maple leaves

fresh maple leaves

dried eucalyptus leaves

dried eucalyptus leaves

If anything changes after the fabric is washed, I will post an update. I am very eager to have a dialogue about these results, so please comment below if you have any information as to WHY these results have happened and if you have any questions.

There was only one major change that happened after the wash. The hibiscus fabric changed from vibrant magenta to a dusty purple. 

These pieces of silk still have to be printed on, batiked, and re-dyed as they turn into scarves, so stay tuned! ( and follow me on instagram : jamiebourgeois

I've been in the garden

I planted a dye garden this year, and it is the most glorious thing. 

       storing coreopsis

       storing coreopsis

       avocado pod

       avocado pod

       carrot top babies getting tucked in

       carrot top babies getting tucked in

       carrot stack

       carrot stack

a successful day's work

a successful day's work

        un-bundled: rosemary

        un-bundled: rosemary

Stay tuned for results!

I went on a harvesting walk through the city of Savannah to find plant material to dye my silk material. Luckily it was right after the Holidays and people were throwing out old bouquets and center pieces. To say the least, I found gold mines. Here's some of the process. 

After they steamed I boiled some of the bundles in a bath of red wine, yellow onion skins, and black tea.

And then I wrapped some of them around a rusty iron spike.