The following week my girlfriend and I walked passed them, and with December creeping in, I knew they'd be gone any day. The next morning I called the supervisor of the greens to explain my need for those marigolds (!), and told me they had been pulled out that morning at 6am! After speaking to the head gardener, she shared directions to a secret road that would lead me through the park, through the golf course, and to a dumpster, where all the marigolds were waiting, to make their way into the landfill.
As I drove up, a beautiful orange and green mirage lay before me. I was giddy with excitement. I quickly went to work and began to cut all the flower heads off, tossing them in a bag. With one full trash bag, it was time to go home and get to work, and experiment with a flower I had never had a chance to work with first hand.
-Fill a large pot at least half full with marigold flowers. Try not to include the stems.
-Fill them to cover with water. Allow to sit overnight.
-Next day, I used a hand blender to chop the flowers and help release the dye.
-Bring the flowers slowly to boil, and allow them to simmer for one hour.
-Strain into another pot. Now you have your marigold dye. Some people call this the 'dye liquor'.
I used linen, cotton, silk and a small piece of wool to test fibers with the dye. The silk and linen were most successful. Prior to submerging the fibers into the dye pot, I had mordanted the linen and cotton with alum. I then simmered the fabric in the marigold dye for an hour. I then let it sit in the pot overnight.
The following day I removed the items and placed them straight into my dryer. I allowed them to cure overnight, without rinsing. A gentle wash then properly rinsed them.
The resulting colors are a warm yellow, with a hint of chartreuse. The charmeuse silk is divine, and like all silk, soaks up natural dye wonderfully. Linen is an absolute favorite fabric of mine to quilt with and I am glad to say the linen turned out beautifully, too.
If you're ever eye balling a field of marigolds, don't hesitate to ask the land owner, or park conservancy for that matter, if you can have them!