Gearing up for summer workshops

We hope that creating art with plants in Allen Centennial Garden can be many things, but especially, we hope that it can be the spark that opens the door to new ideas and creativity. Like any creative effort, when gardening we often wonder how things might have turned out if we had something different. Is there a better season for this task? A better plant? Gardening and, thus, garden art projects are slow. Last year, we waited patiently for almost 5 months before our indigo was ready for our first test run. It may be that the very slowness of garden projects, which depend on growing plants, are rewarding because the choices run up against limits imposed by plants going about their own lives. In fact, this very problem is why we are so excited about our programs this summer. Winter is a long time to ponder, plan, and learn from last year’s experiences and draw up new ideas. Spring is a long time to finally grow, weed, and protect from rabbits. Summer, finally, is when it is possible to collect the flowers, learn, create, and gather seeds for next year.

Below are a few things we learned last year while creating with plants and why we’re excited for this year’s series of programs. We hope you’ll join us. To register, visit our Eventbrite. To see the line up check out the full listing.


After doing a fair amount of dyeing in the Moore Hall office we’re very excited to be able to spill and not have to clean up quite as much…

Pland based dyes: upcycle – This project was inspired by staff explorations last year. Everyone has brought a random shirt in or some other article that waits in a locker. When we had fresh plants to make a dye vat, we then tossed them in to see what happened. Most of our gardening clothes are sun faded and need a color tune up. Other items, perhaps, are off white and stained slightly needing a good nudge into a new color. Maybe you also have clothes that could still be good or even a little better with a new color? This is a rewarding project that will help you consider your clothes and your plants differently.






We hosted a group of students who watercolored until it was also too dark to see! This project is about the process.

Plant based watercolors – Making watercolors is a fun project that rewards the patient. It took us hours last year to find the best plants to transform into paints.  And while we haven’t yet found every hue in the garden, we can share what we have learned through trial and error to speed you on your way to a new creative process. (And, how to grow them.) We found the needed improvisation when working with a limited palette to be the best part of plant based watercolors. Come see what you can do with only what can be collected, mashed, and strained with a small mortar and pestle. : )




These test run bookmarks show some of the remarkable colors and shapes possible when pressing diverse flowers and leaves.

Floral greeting cards – Drying flowers is something I began doing more during the pandemic as a way to get extra value out of flowers I was growing. You never quite know what you’re going to get when drying flowers. Most often they flatten as planned, turning into nearly two-dimensional art with intriguing depth. Sometimes they flatten in interesting ways as water departs areas more quickly than others or as the pressure applied to them changes. Furthermore, as we’ve done this program, we’ve learned that as cool as it is to dry a vividly colored flower, sometimes the leaves are what help make a project. That’s where it helps to work in a garden with countless ferns and sumac. Come learn the process and see what you can create with us.