I have been growing it for four years. The excitement I felt at first seeing its spiky little squareish stem poking up out of the earth has never really left me.

I have watched it sprawl and colonise, and have – every spring – searched amongst the other gubbins in the garden for a trace that it has made it through the winter. It always has.

Every winter, the sprawling tops of the madder have dried into prickly husks. Every spring, small, tawny shoots have poked up through the earth again, the deep nexus of ruby-coloured roots thicker, and the sprawling powers of the plant enhanced. Every summer, it has wound its way lazily through everything nearby, and pushed its roots determinedly onward through the ground.

It was time to harvest it this year; the mulberry tree is growing really well, and I didn’t want to risk undertaking a dig deep near its roots next year. The area where both mulberry tree and madder grow is a tangled jungle of sprawling things; bindweed; an indestructible rose-of-Sharon bush; a low, creeping plant the name of which I don’t know; ivy; and something else which has furry stems and thick, brittle, long white roots. But hands and eyes can be clever and sensitive when sifting through endless roots looking for the right ones, and madder is unmistakeable in its rubbery brittleness and distinctive, tawny colour.

What a very great pleasure to kneel under the mulberry tree all day digging out the ground where I planted a small shoot four years ago…

…and acquiring all this.

There are many roots here, and some show the promise of new growth. All the roots were moving towards the margins of the mulberry tree’s shadow, edging towards the sun. I will replant the salvaged shoots in a sunnier spot, and hopefully there will be more in 2015.

I had a wee companion for most of the day. I called her Queen Latifah, because she looked like a warrior, and her determined reappearances throughout the day reminded me of the 1980s riff “once again Queen Latifah is back” from the wondrous song “Mama Gave birth to the soul children”. This seemed kind of apt, given how many babies this spider is evidently carrying.

Hopefully next year there will be many garden spiders and yet more madder in the garden.

4 Responses to Madder

  1. Pingback: The Domestic Soundscape » Archive » Wovember post-script #1: The Slow Wardrobe

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Copyright statement

You may transmit content found on this website (excluding my knitting patterns which are protected under International copyright law) under the following conditions:

- You always attribute my work to me, Felicity Ford, including a link back to this site
- You do not alter my work
- You do not use my work for commercial purposes

To discuss any other uses of my work, please contact me directly on the telephone number and email address provided at the top of this blog.

Creative Commons License
All the work shown here by Felicity Ford is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

From time to time I feature images, sounds or words on this blog which are not my own: in all such cases the original copyright owner is named. International copyright law requires that in order to republish their content, you must seek out their permission.

Thank you for respecting these terms and conditions.

Search Form