Japanese Indigo and Frost

We’ve had a pretty mild winter thus far around here. Today, though, I have a snow day so I’m catching up on a post I started writing ages ago. This post is about nursing my Japanese indigo plants through the frosts in the fall. When the first frost was forecast on October 10, 2015, I bundled up the plants nice and snug.

October 10 wrapped Japanese indigoOn top of the blankets I put a lot of stakes to keep them from blowing off. You can see the color blazing on the trees in the background. We had a glorious fall! Here’s another stunning view of fall foliage at Bramble Hill Farm that afternoon:

October 10 Mount Norwottuck

They survived the night, and then the weather warmed up again for a while. I was optimistic that I might have time to run another vat, but that did not happen before we got another frost forecast. It was for a Friday night. Matthew and I were going to visit his mom for the weekend, and we had a really tight schedule. He picked me up at school, and we raced over to Bramble Hill to cover the plants before it got dark. As we pulled in to the driveway, however, we saw a row of traffic cones across the road, which gave us a sinking feeling. A cheerful fellow waved us to the side, and Carol (the town’s animal control officer, who has a lot of animals at the farm) informed us that the Royal Frog Ballet had a performance that evening. No one was allowed to drive up the farm road. We couldn’t walk in, either, because a portion of the performance was right next to the dye and fiber garden, and the performance was about to start. I have nothing against the Royal Frog Ballet. In fact I’ve heard that they are wonderful and magical. However, I do blame them for preventing me from covering my indigo plants that night.

Covering the plants in the fall is merely forestalling the inevitable. Eventually, all things must die, and the Japanese Indigo died beautifully. Actually, that sounds like a pun but I only mean it to sound lovely; I’m talking about death, here!

Here’s how the plants looked when I finally got around to dealing with them on November 15, 2015:

November 15 Japanese indigo and fall leaves

You can see by the brown leaves on the bed that the fall foliage has passed and the leaves have fallen from the trees.

November 15 Japanese indigo bed

I was sad that the plants were so very dead and dried up, but I was also captivated by the incredible blue-black of the papery leaves and the intense pink of the stems. So, I took a lot of photos:

November 15 Japanese indigo leaf close up

November 15 Japanese indigo after frosts

Being me, I couldn’t bear to just consign them to the compost heap. So, for the past three months they have been hanging out in the back of the van in paper bags. I’m not sure if they’ll be any use for dyeing, and I’m not sure if any of the seed is salvageable. I’ll have to wait until the warm weather returns to experiment with them.