Dyeing with Mushrooms: Art, Craft & Science

January 18th, 2015

Mushrooms are sometimes delicious and sometimes dangerous but they are always beautiful and mysterious. Did you know that they also can produce some beautiful dyes? A rainbow of colors in fact. PHOTO: Jack-O-Lantern mushrooms are some of Sherri Scott’s favorite fungi to use for dye. They can produce vibrant purples and lavenders with the right dye-bath techniques and mordants.

During the Dyeing with Mushrooms workshop this coming Saturday January 24, 2015 led by local plantswoman Sherri Scott and hosted by the Friends of the Chico State Herbarium, attendees will have the opportunity to experiment in a lab setting with some of the mushrooms (and a lichen) Butte County has to offer along with safe mordants and a variety of fibers to discover our local fungal rainbow. During the cooking processes we will have plenty of time to go over the beginnerʼs basics of mushroom ID and foraging, dye and mordant processes, and dyeing techniques. Participants will be able to take home some samples and even bring something of their own to dye.

Dyeing with Mushrooms

Sherri Scott is a “nature junkie” whose passion for mushrooms began in the mid 90s while living in the fungal rich area of San Francisco. Through the enthusiasm and guidance of various mentors in the Mycological Society of San Francisco, she discovered the amazing treasures that the rain brings. She also discovered the work of Miriam Rice, an artist/mycologist/naturalist whose research into Dyeing with Mushrooms and documenting of her results stimulated a renaissance of this ancient and traditional art form: using fungi as a source of useful and beautiful dyes.

Sherri finds herself renewed in the woods while foraging for fun, science, food or the great peace that it gives her and loves when she can infect another into this world!

She is likewise a knowledgeable and accomplished plantswoman and advocate. She runs the GRUB plant nursery and is instrumental in their educational programs, and is a founder of the Chico Seed Lending Library. When speaking about her interest in Dyeing with Mushrooms specifically, she said: “One of the great things about it is how it brings together such diverse people and communities - the pigment artists, the fiber artists, the naturalists and outdoors people, the chemists and the biologists. It’s a rich connecting point for sparking inter-interest collaboration and results!”

Sherri will generously share her passion for and knowledge of collecting mushrooms and lichens for dyeing in this workshop.

The registration fee is $45. FOH members $40. Please register in advance; class size is limited to 20 participants (class cancelled without a minimum of 10 participants).
Location: Holt Hall CSU Chico room TBA. For more information about workshop content and what to bring, contact Sherri Scott sherri@grubchico.org
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For information about workshop registration contact the Biology office at (530) 898-5356 or epurvis@csuchico.edu Or online at http://www.csuchico.edu/biol/Herb/Events.html

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In a North State Garden is a twice-monthly Northstate Public Radio and web-based program celebrating the art, craft and science of home gardening in Northern California. It is made possible in part by the Gateway Science Museum - Exploring the Natural History of the North State and on the campus of CSU, Chico. In a North State Garden is conceived, written, photographed and hosted by Jennifer Jewell - all rights reserved jewellgarden.com. In a North State Garden airs two weekends a month on Northstate Public Radio Saturday mornings at 7:34 AM Pacific time and Sunday morning at 8:34 AM Pacific time.

January 2015 in the Garden & North State Calendar of Gardening Events

January 3rd, 2015

It’s a new year. And in the first days of this New Year, I’m planting a new garden. In many ways, this garden – like this year – is a blank slate. The new garden is on an oddly shaped lot, with not even one tree and currently this unlikely-opportunity for a garden is clothed in nearly nothing but a thick layer of decomposed granite – a material most commonly used for creating pathways, rather than mulching whole gardens.

Based on simply its shape, exposure and lack of any existing plant structure, this garden (like this coming year could be) will be very different from previous gardens I have planned and planted. And yet – as we all know – wherever I go, there I am – and so no doubt this new garden – again, just like this new year - will bear the distinctive marks of me - no matter how diligently I may try to transcend and grow beyond some patterns and preferences. Perhaps what’s different this time around – in both the garden and the year – is how deeply aware I am that I have choices and so what parts of my past I bring along, I have chosen to keep with me. What hopes for my future are cultivated and made manifest, I have consciously (for the most part) chosen to cultivate. From the past, I am sure to include spring bulbs, roses, peonies, things planted too closely together, plants with differing water needs combined. With and eye towards the future, its community and sustainability, I am planning a small grove of mountain mahogany, the seeds of which will delight the birds and sparkle in the falling afternoon sunlight, a front courtyard and seating area from which I can chat with passing neighbors, and very very little if any traditional lawn. Read the rest of this entry »

Poinsettias: Purity and Flower of the Noche Buena

December 20th, 2014

PHOTO: The “poinsettia house” at the Plant Barn in Chico, where (including the many years under the umbrella of Chico Propagators) poinsettias have been cultivated for a dozen winters or more. Most good nurseries and garden centers will have greenhouse sections dedicated to the plants - to visit the warm, moist greenhouse filled with seasonal color this year is strong therapy for the weary or skeptical.

The winter holidays are upon us ready or not. A week or so ago, late in the day in some dreadful place, I found myself waiting in a line to purchase something I must have needed – and staring at a somewhat out of place poinsettia. I recall thinking: that’s sort of an odd place for a poinsettia, poinsettias ARE a little odd - What is a poinsettia even? Read the rest of this entry »

Persimmons - Gifts of the Season & December in the North State Garden

November 28th, 2014

as I eat a persimmon

the bell starts ringing

at Horyuji Temple

Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902)

PHOTOS above: firm rounded persimmon ripening at the Genetic Resource and Conservation Center, also known as the Tree Farm, in Chico.

Persimmon have long represented both the divine and the worldly delights in many cultures. These colorful, tasty and seasonal fruits rank high among the marvels of the North State Garden in early winter. And not just the persimmon, as if there were just one – but the whole range of them available to us from late fall and into the New Year: the fuyugaki (generally shortened to fuyu), which is apple shaped and can be eaten when still firm without fear of bitterness; the hachiya, which is the more heart shaped and full-bodied one, eaten only when very very ripe (generally after cold nighttime temperatures have sweetened them) and almost jelly-like inside; and the so-called chocolate persimmon or maru, which is prized for its cinnamon colored flesh, to mention just three. Read the rest of this entry »

Wreaths & Greens of the Season 2014

November 24th, 2014

The beauty of the garden in winter is a unique pleasure: fragrant, fresh evergreens, bright berries, frosty mornings. Photo: Frosty Indian hawthorne on a cold North State morning.

Seasonal greens, winter fruits, and sculptural cones have long been associated with the winter holidays–with brightening shortened days and long nights, with the universal hope for the return of the light, and symbolic wishes of prosperity for the coming fresh start of the new year. Photo: Seasonal wreath of North State pomegranates. Read the rest of this entry »

Bringing it to Life: Altacal Audubon’s Backyard Habitat Certification Program

November 15th, 2014

This time of year is marked for me by the early morning calling of a great horned owl, who roosts (and hunts) from a line of blue oaks at the end of my garden. In the mid-day, the sound of hummingbird activity still dominates – nectaring in the last of the lavender and salvia, and hunting for bugs among the blue oaks’ falling leaves, along with cheerful little crews of bushtits enjoying their own foraging. The sweet simple call of the white crowned sparrow punctuates the heat of the day, and if I ever lose track of which season is upon us, the song of fall and winter’s flicker reminds me. Read the rest of this entry »

Timing: November in the Garden & North State Calendar of Regional Gardening Events

November 1st, 2014

PHOTO: Autumnal bumble bees resting in an an aster.

Timing is everything isn’t it? It’s as true in baseball as it is in politics as it is in the garden. Good timing, and an intuitive understanding of timing, makes everything you do or are preparing to do, come along more easily.

PHOTO: Fall trees. Read the rest of this entry »

Legacy: October & The North State Calendar of Gardening Events

September 27th, 2014


As I compose this month’s calendar piece two things are foremost in my mind. The first is that it is raining. Really raining and the sound and smell and light of this much anticipated seasonal weather has a forceful and visceral effect on me and my outlook. While not a drought ending rain, it’s certainly a welcome easing of us and our gardens from late summer into fall.

PHOTO: Me and my paternal aunt Diana Bingham left, and maternal aunt Bettina Balding Blackford at a gardening symposium at White Flower Farm in Litchfield Connecticut in 2003. Read the rest of this entry »

A New Rose Garden in Chico, the City of Roses

September 22nd, 2014

Rose gardens are among the most ancient and storied of cultivated gardens in human history - along with physic gardens. Roses themselves are among the most storied of flowers. And our North State Mediterranean climate actually provides some remarkably good rose growing conditions. Which is lucky for all those rose-lovers out there. Read the rest of this entry »

September in the Garden & North State Calendar of Regional Gardening Events

August 30th, 2014

PHOTO: Ripe Ribes sp. (roezlii?).

September in the North State garden begins in earnest our biggest and best window of opportunity to plant in our gardens. From mid-September to the end of October, from Davis to Redding, a generous number of arboreta, plant societies and nurseries will host plant sales to get us started on our annual garden additions. From perennials to fall and winter vegetables, from trees to shrubs and vines and bulbs and even the broadcasting of annual wildflower seeds, from drought tolerant natives to fruit trees – now begins the best time for us North State Gardeners to dream it, plan it and plant it. Read the rest of this entry »