The first two weeks of June are a busy time for my Lupin dyeing, and usually I'd have at least 2 courses running to give me a couple of helpers for the process. This year it's just myself and lovely husband making the daily trek down to the Loch Ness woodlands to harvest these flowers.
As I mentioned in a previous post these Lupins are an invasive and problematic plant for us in the Loch Ness woodlands.
They have no native predators so they grow quickly and out compete out native plants, such as foxgloves.
Our gathering mimics the level of grazing that would be carried out naturally and begins to disrupt the seed cycle, giving some of our native species a chance to thrive.
All of my woodland work is done with the permission of the landowner, in this case the Woodland Trust.
In the lead up and during the gathering time my husband and I visit the site daily, two pairs of eyes is better than one! We are taking note of water levels and hazards, as you can see the Lupins enjoy the wet conditions right by the river. In the Scottish Highlands we can have heavy rain at any time of year, raising the river to dangerous levels very quickly. This often happens overnight as rain from higher up in the mountains flows down towards Loch Ness.
We also look out for any nesting birds so that we don't disturb them, mostly the gathering takes place after the first brood but sometimes weather conditions such as a wet Spring can mean an overlap.
We are also scouting for any rare plants and anything dangerous such as Hemlock, so that we can avoid these.
We walk around 1.5km everyday, to complete this early morning harvest and rarely see another person. It is a blissful way to start our day.
If you have Lupins in your garden and would like to try the dyeing process for yourself you can learn more about this in my book My Colourful Garden.