Couleur Garance - The Garden of Natural Dyes

Couleur Garance - The Garden of Natural Dyes

I can not post about my trip to France without dedicating an entry to the Couleur Garance! After all this was the reason for my journey in the first place. A few years back I attended a lecture from the renowned natural dye innovator Michel Garcia. I was at a place in my art processes and personal life in which I needed something different. This lead me to start a dialog with Michel about visiting France and studying with him like a mentorship or residency. He suggested that I connect with the Couleur Garance. This garden is a non profit organization that he founded and built in 2002. So, this is how I made my connections to begin this life changing journey to the beautiful village of Lauris.

I will post separately my dye experiments and time that I spent with Michel learning and having hours of insightful conversation.

For now I would like to share the abundance that the Jardin (garden) has to offer.

The garden was designed to grow plants for dye and show a little of all the attributes that different plants have to offer such as food, medicine, invasive species, and perfume. The plots are divided by color they produce. This is all surrounded by wild flowers of the region.

Rhubarb – stalks used food, leaves used as a mordant.

Elderberry- used as a dye, and also excellent immune booster.

Rock Rose -Cistus (one of my personal favorites) resins used for perfume industry (labdanum)

As you can see these cactus are budding and after the second week they were busting out with beautiful blooms. This is the cactus in which the cochineal insect would live on as a parasitic host. This insect is famous for its beautiful reds and pinks.

There was scarab Beatles swarming the flowers of this cactus and it looks as though this pair had a relationship to work through.

Oak Gall collected to use as a tannin

Pomegranate skins harvested for dye has a very high tannin content.

This is Dominique, she is the president of the Association! She coordinates a lot of things for the garden and she was a wonderful host.

This is Michel Garcia! We are sitting under the pomegranate tree that he bought when the garden was started. He told me it was barely alive and the man at the nursery gave him the tree. He in turn gave it love and a new life. Now it is thriving and producing fruit for future generations.


I would like to thank the Regional Arts and Culture Council for partially funding this trip for my professional development. It is very important to be supported while creating, researching, and living the life of an artist. And for that I feel grateful and blessed !

Stay tuned for my next posting about my visit to the village of Baux.

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