Books on Patchwork, Quilting and Appliqué

Patchwork,  and quilting are all highly inter-related crafts and are a wonderful way for sewers to use up all those extra remnant fabrics from other projects, though in reality, a whole industry has developed, supplying fabulous fat quarters for these sewing techniques. I am constantly amazed that despite my huge stash of fabric, fat quarters and fabric scraps, I still need to occasionally buy that special pattern or colour combination to match up, complement or contrast the other fabrics chosen. Choosing the right fabrics for quilting projects is a real skill and is not as easy as you would think!

Patchwork, appliqué and quilting have come such a long way since their original and traditional  function of making bed covers, table runners and hanging pictorial quilts out of recycled fabrics and there are some amazingly talented artists these days. Here are some of my favourite books in my craft library, both practical and inspirational, which cover these techniques!

Patchwork Primer: Step-by-Step Techniques and Beautiful Projects by Dorothy Wood 2000

This patchwork primer covers a multitude of techniques and information, including:

Materials and equipment and quilt terminology;

Choosing fabrics, wadding or batting and colour;

Planning a quilt design: Composition; sashing and borders; quilt backing; binding; quilt sizes and a conversion chart (metric, imperial and decimal);

Calculating fabric quantities;

Making and using templates;

Marking fabric;

Using a rotary cutting set and scissors;

Hand-piecing with or without papers;

Speed-piecing;

Joining patchwork by machine;

Pressing seams;

Working with right-angled triangles

Piecing star designs;

Specialised patchwork techniques: Piecing Log Cabin blocks; English crazy patchwork; and seminole patchwork;

Joining curved seams;

Hand embroidery stitches;

Raw-edged, traditional and machine appliqué;

Special appliqué techniques: Broderie Perse; Shadow; Hawaiian; Stained Glass; and Reverse Appliqué

Joining blocks and making a quilt sandwich;

Transferring a quilt design : Prick and pounce; Dressmaker’s carbon; Quilting templates; and Quilter’s tape;

Quilting: Hand and Machine Quilting techniques: In-the-Ditch; Selective; Outline; Echo; Parallel lines; Shell-filling and Diamond-filling; Trapunto; Italian or corded; Sashiko; and Tied;

Binding a quilt;

Sewing Machines: Type; Features; Threading; Filling a bobbin; Choosing a needle; Machine feet; Stitch tension; and Maintenance and trouble shooting; and

Templates and designs.

My friend made me this beautiful patchwork cushion for my birthday!BlogBks PAQ30%IMG_5177Throughout the book are patterns and instructions for:

American Block Quilts:

Four Patch: Double Pinwheel; Windmill; Road to Heaven; Flower Basket; Flock of Geese; Crockett Cabin; Crosses and Losses;  and Spool and Bobbin;

Nine Patch: Contrary Wife; Churn Dash; Jacob’s Ladder; Puss in the Corner; Darting Birds; Steps to the Altar; Eccentric Star; Shoo Fly; and Cat’s Cradle;

as well as less common designs for Five Patch and Seven Patch (Bear’s Paw) quilts;

Star Quilts: 54/40 or Fight Star; and Le Moyne Star;

Curved Seams: Drunkard’s Path;

Log Cabin Designs: Light and Dark; Barn Raising; Straight Furrow; Pineapple Log Cabin; Courthouse Steps; and Off-Centre Log Cabin; and

Baltimore Quilts;

It is an excellent book for covering all the basics!BlogBks PAQ30%IMG_5163

Creative Patchwork with Appliqué  and Quilting The Australian Women’s Weekly Craft Library 1998

Once you have mastered the basic techniques, it is great to be able to practice them on a few projects and this book has some very attractive and well-explained patterns for:

Bedroom Quilts: Lemoyne Star*; Dresden Plate; Double Irish Chain; and Antique;

Hanging Quilts: Naïve Doll; Birds in the Fountain; Country Vase with Flowers; Cabin Flannel; and Child’s Button Quilt*;

Minis and Lap Quilts: Crazy Patchwork; Garden Sampler*; Foundation Mini Bowtie; and Cot Quilt*;

Home Decorating: Floral tablecloth; Heart table runner; and Flowerpot*; Stitcher’s and Quilted Cushions;

Quilting Accessories: Heart Sewing Box; Log Cabin Pincushions*; and Quilter’s Carry Bag*.

My favourite projects are followed by a *.

There is a short section in the back reiterating all the basic techniques already described.BlogBks PAQ30%IMG_5164

The next two books cover specific patchwork techniques: English crazy patchwork and the Seminole patchwork of North American indigenous tribes in Florida.

Crazy Patchwork by Meryl Potter 1997

Crazy patchwork was very popular at the end of the 19th Century in America, England and Australia and enjoyed a brief revival in the 1990s. Odd-shaped fabric scraps are stitched to a foundation fabric, then the seams are decorated with embroidery stitches. It is great fun as there are no rules and all sorts of fancy fabric with different textures like silks, lace and brocades, velvets and embroidered fabrics can be used, as well as ribbons and braids.

Basic techniques, colour and fabric choice and the basic toolkit, including window templates are discussed briefly in the first chapter titled ‘Getting Started’ with a more detailed examination of techniques and technicalities in the back of the book, including notes on embellishments (embroidered or appliquéd motifs; lace; ribbon embroidery; and beads and charms); threads (stranded cottons; perle threads; soft cottons like Wildflowers by Caron or Danish Flower Threads; stranded silks; perle silks; synthetic threads; fancy threads like bouclé and chenille; and metallic threads); ribbon embroidery; beads, buttons and charms; pins and needles; twisted cords and piping; and mitred corners, as well as a bibliography and list of suppliers.

Here is a photo of a UFO (unfinished object for the uninitiated!), which I WILL finish one day (!), using crazy patchwork and appliqué, to make a bag or a table runner!BlogBks PAQ25%IMG_5179However, the majority of the book is devoted to the projects, including materials; method; stitch notes; and finishing:

Peaches and Cream: Victorian Bag and a Fabric-covered Box;

Country Christmas: Decorations and Table Runner;

Victorian Tiles: Throw;

The Deep Blue Sea: Scissor case; Pincushion; Needlecase; and Bag: my favourite project in rich ocean colours of green, turquoise, blues and purples! See front cover of the book;

Out of This World: Bag; Spectacles case and Purse;

Precious Jewels: Brooches in varying shapes;

The Realms of Gold: Cushion and sachets;

Gentle Hearts: Wall Hanging.

This book fosters creativity and imagination, the projects merely a starting point for pursuing your own personal crazy journey!!!BlogBks PAQ30%IMG_5165

The Seminole Patchwork Book by Cheryl Greider Bradkin 1980

I have always been fascinated with the Seminole patchwork process! Strips of material are cut and sewn together along their long horizontal edge by machine. The strip patch is then cut vertically and the new strips are sewn together in an offset position with the long edges of the new band finished off with fabric strips.

An unlimited number of patterns, 61 of which are displayed in the Glossary of Patterns at the front and back of the book, can be created by varying the number and width of strips and the angles, widths and offsets of the pieces. The other advantage of this technique is that nothing is ever wrong or discarded as any ‘mistakes’ are not only learning experiences, but also usable in different future projects!

The book includes a discussion of the tools and materials required; step-by-step instructions for construction; notes on using the patterns, mirror image designs and graphed motifs; and suggestions for the use of Seminole to decorate clothing (ties, belts, hems, cuffs and borders, and yokes); linen (towels); and homeware (chair covers and cushions; and wall hangings; placemats and wine totes; tote bags and fabric boxes; and spectacle cases, book covers and photo frames), supported by colourful photographs.

While the format and projects look a little dated these days, it is still a really interesting technique, worthy of experimentation and exploration!BlogBks PAQ30%IMG_5166

Now for some specific books on appliqué !

The Appliqué  Book by Rose Verney 1990

A good introduction to the history of this art form and general techniques:

Choosing and preparing fabrics;

Cutting out: Enlarging pattern pieces; Positioning pieces; Cutting bias strips;

Transferring embroidery details: Fabric marking pencils and pens and Dressmaker’s carbon;

Stitching: Tacking; Slipstitching turned-under edges; Points, corners, circles and curves; and Embroidery stitches;

Pressing and Finishing: Mitred corners; and Joining bias strips; and finally,

Basic instructions for the construction of cushions and curtains.

The majority of the book is devoted to twenty projects, including: Tea, coffee and egg cosies; tablecloths; cushions and curtains; quilts; wall hangings and friezes; and bags and jackets.

I particularly liked the designs: Brilliant Blooms (cushion); Animal Parade and Fun With Numbers (nursery friezes); Fleur-de-Lys Variations (cushions); Beautiful Balloons (curtains) and Birds in the Trees (quilt).

This is a good basic guide to traditional appliqué  techniques in the pre-Vliesofix days! One of the projects in the book was a Stained Glass cushion using the reverse appliqué  technique, another fascinating and fun technique, as well as producing very attractive results!

BlogBks PAQ30%IMG_5167

Reverse Appliqué with No Brakez by Jan Mullen 2003

I loved this book! It is so inspiring with great explanations and bright colourful designs!

It is based on the premise of the crayon resist, where designs are scratched through a black paint overlay to reveal the colourful crayon colours underneath. In its most basic form, reverse appliqué  involves the layering of two fabrics, then cutting through the top layer to reveal the hidden layer underneath, the cut edges held down with stitches.

Eg the Molas of the Kuna women of Panama in South America (see: http://www.molasfrompanama.com) and Hmong textiles (see: http://www.hmongembroidery.org/reverseapplique3.html and http://www.hmongembroidery.org/reverseapplique.html).

Jan has gone one step further, sewing rough-cut fabric pieces with tapered edges together for the secret under-layer, enhancing the mystery and creativity and originality of the process! She guides you through the process, examining each layer in depth and providing plenty of suggestions for variations and further exploration. Here is a photo of my efforts using this book!BlogBks PAQ30%IMG_5176Chapter One describes the toolkit, while Chapter Two examines the basic processes of:

Reversing with No Brakez;

Reverse appliqué with edges turned under: Cutting through the top layer; Corners and points; and Clipping and notching curves;

Reverse appliqué  with raw edges using vliesofix (fusible web); and

Quilting: Quilt-as-you-go; Floating borders or sashing; Machine quilting; and Binding.

Chapter Three is all about design: Project and design size; Theme; Adapting traditional appliqué  designs; Text; Drawing and transferring the design; and Border design.

The secret layer is the crux of the whole process and is described in detail in Chapter Four: the fabrics (cotton, silk, satin, synthetics, taffetas, wools, flannels and sheers); multiple layers for even greater versatility and creativity; piecing layers, varying the size and direction of the strips, and different techniques like tapering, colourwash and stack-slice-switching; and stitching directly onto batting.

The top layer is also important for contrast and is discussed in Chapter Five. Black and bold plain colours contrast well, while dots, stripes tone-on-tones, repeat patterns and different textures add visual interest and may complement the secret layer. Different fabric types and different piecing options for the top layer (distinct design areas; squares; irregular pieces; tapered layered bands; and pieced blocks) are also covered.

Having assembles the sandwich layers: the backing; batting; one or multiple secret layers made of stitched strips; and the top layer, it’s time for the fun bit! When you cut through the top layer to reveal the secret layer, it is so exciting, satisfying, surprising and exhilarating! You never know exactly what you are going to get, unless you are the world’s most expert planner!

Chapter Six examines Reversing by Hand (traditional appliqué  with turned-under edges and invisible slip-stitching; and raw edge appliqué  with fusible webbing, the cut edges secured by buttonhole stitch; stab stitch; cross stitch or feather and Cretan stitch); Threads (colour, type and thickness); Reversing by Machine (Freehand and straight; scribbly and decorative stitches); and the technique of Stitching, then cutting.

Quilting and Finishing are discussed in Chapter Seven: Thread choice; hand quilting (echo stitching, textured stitching and tying); machine quilting; adding text; embellishment (beads and buttons or appliqué  on the top layer); mock trapunto; and finishing the edge with binding.

The remainder of the book features six colourful projects, reinforcing skills and techniques learnt, as well as a gallery of inspiring ideas. I highly recommend this book, as well as visiting her website on: http://www.janmullen.com.au/!

BlogBks PAQ30%IMG_5168

The remaining five books in this post, while still including practical instruction and projects, serve to inspire the reader by showcasing the work of a wide variety of appliqué  and quilting experts, as well as a few particular favourites of mine!

Appliqué  Style: The Best of Contemporary Design-Plus Stylish Projects To Make At Home by Juliet Bawden 1997

An interesting and inspiring book, which examines the origins and history of appliqué; sources of inspiration and design; the work of 21 contemporary designers, showing a wide range of styles and techniques; the techniques themselves (tools and materials; preparing fabrics and paper templates; scaling and transferring the design; cutting out appliqué pieces; using backing pieces; corners, curves and circles; making bias binding; hand-stitched appliqué basics; bonding or fused appliqué; stump work; shadow appliqué; reverse appliqué; machine appliqué; and inlay work); and includes 15 projects designed by 11 of the artists featured from clothing (vest, hat, scarf), jewellery (brooches and buttons) and bags (laundry bag and carry bags) to bedding (blankets and pillowcases) and homeware (cushions, lampshade and book cover).

While I loved all the artwork, I was particularly drawn to the work of Belinda Downes, Rachael Howard, Madelaine Millington, Nancy Nicholson and Lisa Vaughan.BlogBks PAQ30%IMG_5169

The Passionate Quilter: Ideas and Techniques From Leading Quilters by Michele Walker 1990

A similar book to the last, but specifically devoted to quilting and featuring both traditional quiltmakers (Northumbrian; traditional; and Welsh) and contemporary artists and their work (folded patterns; pieced pictures; batik texture; pattern and tone; appliqué pictures; mosaic patchwork; stencilled images; fabric collage; machine appliqué; stitched collage; reverse appliqué; painting with fabric; hand-sewn patchwork and strip piecing), as well as describing a variety of techniques (hand and machine sewn patchwork, appliqué and quilting).

My favourite artworks were the sumptuous and richly-coloured  reverse appliqué quilts of Gillian Horn; the tonal patchwork quilts of Deidre Amsden and Sashiko-stitched vintage patchwork of Setsuko Obi; and the pictorial quilts of Jean Sheers and Janet Bolton, whose books are featured later in this post.BlogBks PAQ30%IMG_5170The Quilter’s Guide To Pictorial Quilts by Maggi McCormick Gordon 2000

Given my preference for pictorial quilts, this book is an excellent addition to my craft library! It covers :

History of pictorial quilts (album or freedom quilts; story and scenic quilts; and folk art quilts) with photos of some beautiful old quilts from the 1800s;

Designing pictorial quilts: Source material; Resizing images; Composition and format; Perspective; Colour; Fabric choice; Creating texture with quilting; and Embellishments (manipulated fabric, string and cord, embroidery and beads and sequins);

Techniques: Materials and equipment; Preparation (making templates; cutting out with scissors or rotary cutter and bias strips); Piecing ( straight piecing by hand, four-piece seams by hand, English piecing, using a machine to join pieced units and stitch curved seams); Hand appliqué (cut and sew, turning edges, plain paper or freezer paper backings, reverse appliqué, shadow appliqué, stained glass, machine appliqué, points and troughs, and broderie perse) and decorative stitches and embellishments);BlogBks PAQ30%IMG_5171

And finally,

Pictorial Themes:

Land and Sea: African landscape; Lateral Links; Textured Towers; Remains of the Day; Places of Refuge; Anchors Aweigh; Down to the Sea; and Mountain Range;

Flowers and Foliage: In the Garden; a Receding View; Floral Shapes; Abundant Texture; Seasonal Colour and Garden Glory;

Animals: Simple Animal Shapes; a Colourful Menagerie; Birds of a Feather; Fish Tales; Bold Effects (the front cover of the book in the photo above); Zebra and Tiger; and Natural Representations;

Figures: Movie stars and famous figures; Faces; Symbolic Figures; and Abstract Realism;

Places: Architectural Masterpieces; Traveller’s Tales; a Celebration of Home; Interiors and Firework Celebration.

This book is full of inspiring and creative artworks, which support the text wonderfully. Some of my favourites were:

Cloudcuckooland by C. June Barnes with colourful patches of birdlife from around the world (http://www.cjunebarnes.co.uk/Textiles/5_Cloudcuckooland.html);

There’s No Place Like Home by Marta Amundson with its very clever abstract patterned patches of red and white repetitive reverse appliqué  symbols of Australian fauna (https://www.amazon.com/Quilted-Animals-Continuous-Line-Patterns/dp/1574327976); and

Going Places by Jane E Petty, based on a vintage travel poster.BlogBks PAQ25%IMG_5175

My final three books feature specific artists: Janet Bolton and Carol Armstrong, two of my favourites!

Janet Bolton has a very distinctive and attractive almost-naïve folk art style and I own two of her books. Here is her website: https://www.janetbolton.com/.

Patchwork Folk Art: Using Appliqué  and Quilting Techniques by Janet Bolton 1995

In this practical guide, she discusses her inspirations; fabric choices and sources; preparing the background foundation; design and cutting templates; cutting and arranging the compositional shapes (fabric appliqué pieces); turning under appliqué edges; decorative embroidery stitches; embellishment with found objects and framing pictures, all referenced with examples of her own work and supplemented with workshop activities in each chapter like Making a Seed Box and fabric panels: the Blue Bird In The Morning and Four Flowers, which I really enjoyed making.BlogBks PAQ30%IMG_5178 She finishes with a gallery of her work and templates for the patterns. I love her simplified and rustic depictions of childhood, domestic and farmyard scenes and her use of earthy colours and natural fabrics.BlogBks PAQ30%IMG_5172

Mrs Noah’s Patchwork Quilt: A Journal of the Voyage with a Pocketful of Patchwork Pieces by Janet Bolton 1995

Totally different presentation-wise to the previous book, but still showcasing Janet’s unique style, this delightful book resembles a children’s picture book and tells the story of Mrs Noah’s patchwork quilt and all the animals on the ark.

Illustrated throughout with Janet’s textile pictures, including reference to their position on a quilt, which progressively develops through successive pages to the completed quilt on the back of the last page.

The back envelope contains 10 pre-marked quilt foundation patches to which you stitch material scraps of your choice, decorating with neutral thread, then assembling into the featured quilt. It is such a great concept and I love her naïve folk style.BlogBks PAQ30%IMG_5173Butterflies and Blooms: Designs For Appliqué  and Quilting by Carol Armstrong 2002

Finally, my favourite book of all, as it is based on the garden – its beautiful flowers and plants and all its inhabitants: ants and bumblebees; butterflies and moths; grasshoppers and praying mantis; crickets and cicadas; dragonflies, fireflies, mayflies and lacewings; ladybirds and beetles; and snails, frogs and turtles. I love her use of colour, the patterns created by her quilting stitches on a cream muslin background and her style. Her designs are just so pretty!!!

After detailing her tools and materials and fabric choice and preparation in the introductory chapter, she describes her design process, lightbox appliqué, which eliminates the need for templates. She discusses the order of appliqué; preappliqué techniques or appliquéd appliqué to make positioning easier; the appliqué stitch and how to handle points, curves and circles; embroidery; and bias strips in Chapter Two, while the third chapter focuses on marking; borders; basting layers and quilting; and finally binding the finished quilt.

In Chapter Four, pattern design is discussed briefly before concentrating on patterns and instructions on appliqué and embroidery for each wildflower, including line drawings and colour photographs of the finished design. Wild animal friends are the subject of Chapter Five, then all these newly acquired skills can be put to use in nine different projects in Chapter Six from tiny Bug Bites panels, which could later be used singly as an oven mitt  or coaster or incorporated together in a quilt or cushion; a Wetlands Triptych, which would also look good as table mats; and a Moth Garden door or bed hanging, which I would love to make, to other larger panels titled: May Day Cricket; Bee In a Box; Vine Wreath; Butterfly Bouquet (book cover); Golden Garden and Dragonflies’ Pond. In total, there are 42 hand appliquéd designs, of which there are 24 wildflower patterns and 18 animal patterns – all delightful! Another book, which I would highly recommend to fellow garden-lovers!BlogBks PAQ30%IMG_5174

 

 

 

Feature Plant for September: Crocus

I have to admit that I am a newcomer to the world of crocuses, know very little about them, except that they are one of the first flowers to herald the Spring, and tend to get a bit confused about all the different types, so I thought a bit of research and consequently a feature post might be in order!

The first surprising fact, which I discovered in my research was that these tiny little bulbs belong to the Iris family Iridaceae (see photo above); there are 90 species (though recent chromosome tests have increased the number of species to almost 200) and only 30 species are in cultivation; there are many crocus species, which also bloom in Autumn and Winter; and crocus enthusiasts are known as ‘croconuts’!!! I suspect that after this wonderful season, I could well become one!BlogCrocus20%DSCN3491Their name derives from the Greek word ‘Krokos’, meaning ‘saffron’, referring to the long history of the cultivation of Crocus sativum over 2000 years for the production of the spice saffron for a yellow dye, food colourant, culinary spice and medicinal purposes. The large lilac Autumn flowers have darker veins on the petals, yellow stamens and three vivid red stigma, the source of the saffron.

It is the most expensive spice in the world, 1 Kg of saffron requiring the handpicking of over 85 000 flowers between dawn and 10am and costing $35 000 per Kg! Mind you, both those figures (number of flowers required and cost) vary widely, depending on which article you read! All I know is that in both cases, it’s a lot!!! I found an interesting link about saffron growing in Australia at: https://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/man-with-the-golden-thumb-20080812-gdsq4i.html.

BlogCrocus25%IMG_5485Crocuses (or Croci) are native to Central and Southern Europe; North Africa and the Middle East; the Aegean islands and Central Asia to China. They grow from corms and have narrow mid-green grass-like leaves with a central silver grey stripe and white, lavender, lilac, purple and yellow cup-shaped six-petalled flowers, which have a short stem, long tube, three stamens and one style and only open in the sun or bright light, remaining closed in rainy weather or at night.BlogCrocus25%IMG_5604The corms should be planted 3 to 4 cm deep in sandy well-drained soils in a sunny position. They look lovely in drifts or clumps and naturalise well in lawns, though the grass should not be cut for 6 weeks after flowering to ensure blooming the following year.BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-20 17.07.54There are a number of different species, many of which can be seen on : https://www.pacificbulbsociety.org/pbswiki/index.php/Crocus. Another excellent link is: https://gardendrum.com/2014/02/27/crocus-for-autumn-winter-and-spring/.

The name of EA Bowles kept cropping up in my research into crocus, both in relation to his breeding of them and in the naming of new cultivars and if you would like to know more about his endeavours, especially in relation to crocuses, it is well worth reading: https://thedahliapapers.com/tag/crocus-e-a-bowles/.

BlogCrocus25%IMG_5492The cultivated crocus species can be divided into two main groups according to their flowering season.

Spring

Crocus sieberi  Cretan Crocus. Small flowers start blooming in late Winter as the snow melts. It naturalises easily. Cultivars include Bowles White; Firefly (lilac); Tricolor (white to pale lilac with dark lilac edge and gold centres); and Violet Queen.  The species name ‘sieberi’ honours Franz Wilhelm Sieber (1789-1844), a natural history collector and traveller from Prague.

Crocus chrysanthus Snow Crocus. Native to Yugoslavia, Romania, Greece and Southern Turkey, it flowers in bare earth or the snow on stony or grassy slopes at 1000 to 2000 metres altitude in early Spring. It has smaller, but more profuse flowers than the Dutch crocus and unusual color blends, many hybrids having bicoloured petals and striking yellow centres. The species name ‘chrysanthus’ means ‘golden flowers’. Hybrid cultivars include Cream Beauty; Dorothy; EA Bowles; Goldilocks and Gipsy Girl.

Crocus tommasinianus Early Crocus. Blooms from late Winter to early Spring with pale lavender to red purple blooms with a silvery reverse. They flower profusely after the leaves have fully developed and spontaneously self-propagate, so are very good at naturalising in lawns. The species hails from the woods and shady hillsides of Southern Hungary, Yugoslavia and Northern Bulgaria is named after Muzio Giuseppe Spirito de Tommasini (1794-1879),  an Italian botanist and expert on Dalmatian flora from Trieste. They can be distinguished from C. vernus by its combination of narrow leaves, purple flowers and white tube.

Crocus vernus Dutch Crocus. Very popular and well-known, these tough crocus have the largest flowers of all, so they are sometimes known as Giant Crocus. Originally from the mountains of Europe from the Pyrenees east to Poland and Russia and south to Sicily and Yugoslavia, they flower from early Spring. They will tolerate light shade, like under deciduous trees, in temperate areas. ‘Vernus’ means ‘of the Spring’. BlogCrocus20%DSCN3483I have planted five varieties:

Jeanne d’Arc: Pure white (photo above);

Mammoth: Golden yellow;

Pickwick 1925: Striped white and purple (photo below);

Remembrance: Violet-purple; and

Grand Maître: Purple and blooms slightly later in Spring.

There are also yellow and bronze varieties.BlogCrocus25%IMG_5648My first attempt at growing Dutch crocuses in 2016 yielded a single purple flower, about which I was very excited as its appearance was a total surprise! I had planted ten corms (4 Mammoth and 6 Remembrance) the previous Autumn (mid-April) in the lawn under the deciduous trees, but had not been aware of the emergence of the leaves, when suddenly there was this bright purple flower in July!

I searched in vain for any further flowers that season, as well as the following year, so I was delighted when again a further bud snuck in under the radar, as well as a second grouping of crocus leaves. They are definitely reproducing. Imagine my horror to discover the new bloom nipped in the bud literally by a voracious Satin Bowerbird male and there were no more Remembrance blooms this season!

BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-20 17.07.59Luckily, at the end of April this year, I also planted 5 Jeanne d’Arc; 5 Pickwick; and 10 Grand Maître (photo below) corms in the cutting garden in well-noted spots. The foliage of most of them had surfaced by mid-August and they bloomed spectacularly in the first two weeks of September.BlogCrocus25%IMG_5605Two good places to source species crocus in Australia are Lambley’s Nursery at: https://lambley.com.au/garden-notes/winter-crocus and https://lambley.com.au/search/content/crocus(6 pages)

And Bryan H Tonkin : https://www.tonkinsbulbs.com.au/crocus.html, while Tesselaars has a good range of Snow Crocus (https://www.tesselaar.net.au/product/4010-snow-crocus-collection) and Dutch Crocus (https://www.tesselaar.net.au/naturalising-bulbs/dutch-crocus).

BlogCrocus20%DSCN3480Autumn Crocus

There are still quite a large number of Crocus (at least 30 species and subspecies) which flower in Autumn, the most famous of which is Crocus sativum, the Saffron Crocus, the species name ‘sativum’ meaning ‘cultivated’.

Please note that there are two other genera, Colchicum and Zephyranthes, which are also called Autumn Crocus.

Colchicums

Colchicums, a distant relative of crocus and also a corm, can be differentiated from crocus by the number of styles and stamens. Colchicums have large strappy leaves without a stripe and pink, lilac or white six-petalled flowers (Colchicum luteum from Turkey is the only yellow one) with three styles and six stamens, compared to crocus flowers with their one style and three stamens.

Colchicum flowers also emerge from the soil before the leaves appear, thus their alternative name Naked Ladies, while in Spring-blooming crocus species, leaves shoot first or simultaneously with the flowers. Autumn flowering crocus bloom in full leaf. An exception is Crocus speciosus, whose flowers are produced before the leaves.

Most colchicum species bloom in Autumn (eg lilac-pink Meadow Saffron, Colchicum autumnale, and Colchicum speciosum with its lilac-pink flower with a white throat or its pure white cultivar Album), but a few emerge in Spring (Colchicum szovitsii; Colchicum falcifolium; Colchicum kesselringii; Colchicum hungaricum; and Colchicum luteum).

Members of the Liliaceae family with 45 species from Eastern Europe to North Africa and east to China, most of the colchicums found in Australia hail from Turkey and Greece. According to ancient writers, colchicums were particularly abundant around Colchis, the Black Sea region of Georgia, Caucasus, hence its name. Photographs of the different species can be found on: https://www.pacificbulbsociety.org/pbswiki/index.php/Colchicum.

They like similar conditions to crocus- well-drained soil in full sun or part shade and cool to cold climates with frosty Winters. They can also be bought from Bryan H Tonkin (https://www.tonkinsbulbs.com.au/colchicum.html) and Lambleys Nursery (https://lambley.com.au/search/content/colchicum).

All species and parts of the plant are toxic and the sap can irritate the skin and eyes, so take care handling them! Having said that, it is also the source of the cancer treatment drug colchicine, a mutagen which affects cell division and is also used by plant breeders to produce new cultivars.

Zephyranthus

Zephyranthes, a New World genus from the Amaryllidaceae (Hippeastrum) family, is also called Rain or Storm Lilies as summer and autumn showers trigger flowering.BlogCrocus20%IMG_0160 The genus name derives from two Greek words: ‘zephyros’ meaning ‘west wind’ and ‘anthos’ meaning ‘flower’, since it is a native of the Western Hemisphere (the Americas) and includes 70 species, some of which can be seen in: https://gardendrum.com/2013/01/13/storm-lilies/.

BlogCrocus20%IMG_0600They prefer cool frost-free and subtropical gardens. Having said that, we grow Zephyranthus candida in the shade of the Pepperina tree, where it retains its foliage all year round. In fact, we sourced our bulbs from my sister’s Tenterfield garden, where she gets heavy frosts and temperatures of ten degrees below zero!BlogCrocus20%IMG_0161Zephyranthes candida hails from Uruguay and Argentina. It has bright green glossy needle-like leaves and shining white crocus-like flowers with gold stamens.BlogCrocus5018-03-11 18.20.46Sternbergia

To further complicate the issue, the genus Sternbergia, is also called Autumn Crocus, as well as Autumn Daffodil, and there are eight species, distributed from Italy to Iran. The genus is named in honour of Count Kaspar M von Sternberg (1761-1838), an Austrian clergyman, botanist and palaeontologist and founder of the Bohemian National Museum in Prague.

Most bloom in Autumn, the fine narrow leaves emerging with or just after the flowers, though there are some species which bloom in Spring (Sternbergia fischeriana; Sternbergia colchiciflora; and Sternbergia candida). For more information about and photos of the different species, see: https://www.pacificbulbsociety.org/pbswiki/index.php/Sternbergia.

Sternbergia lutea is the most well-known one, its species ‘lutea’ name meaning ‘yellow’. It has a similar appearance to colchicums, except its bright canary-yellow flower colour. There is only one flower per bulb and they prefer frost-free gardens and a hot dry Summer.

I certainly know so much more about crocus now and am keen to experiment with a few other crocus varieties  like Crocus sativus and some of the Snow Crocus cultivars in the cutting garden or rockery and perhaps to try naturalising the apparently foolproof and fecund Crocus tommasinianus in the lawn ! I would also love to try growing Sternbergia lutea in a pot in a frost-free position up by the house.BlogCrocus50%IMG_5601

Winter Gardens to Visit: Part Two: Native Gardens

We are so lucky here in Australia that much of our native flora, as well as South African natives, bloom in the Winter. Here are two wonderful native gardens we visited last June!

The Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan

Narellan Rd Mt Annan 2567

Spring/Autumn and Winter: 8am to 5pm; Summer 8am to 7pm every day of the year

Visitor Centre 9am to 4pm daily except Christmas Day

Free entrance

https://www.australianbotanicgarden.com.au/

I had wanted to visit this botanic garden for a long time, so it was wonderful to finally achieve this goal! Right on the doorstep of Sydney, this 416 hectare (1028 acres) garden is a wonderful asset to the city with its wide open spaces; over 4000 species of Australian native flora; and themed gardens, as well as the lakeside lawns, picnic areas and 20 km (12 miles) of walking tracks and mountain bike trails.

It is the largest botanic garden in Australia and is one of the three gardens of the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust, which also includes the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney and the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mt Tomah. See: https://australianbg.gardenexplorer.org/ for a map of the different areas.BlogWinterGardens2518-06-07 09.23.05We were so impressed with this garden! It is so well planned and so interesting! We started out at the Visitor Centre, where I loved the paths inset with leaves (photo above), then crossed to the 4.5 ha Connections Garden, a fabulous showpiece with great colour (the pink Kangaroo Paw is Anigozanthos Bush Pearl)BlogWinterGardens2518-06-07 10.17.49and a fascinating journey through the evolution of  Australia’s native flora from the Triassic conifers cycads and ferns 250 Million years ago…

Clockwise from top left: The cycad with the tall stem is Cycas megacarpa; Wollemi Pine, Wollemia nobilis; Lepidozamia peroffskyana and Cycas platyphylla;

to the Cretaceous angiosperms 129 Million years ago and Gondwanan rainforests 40 Million years ago;BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2208BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2088BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2144 and the drying out of the continent over the last 70 000 years. Here are some of the plants in bloom: Snow Wood, Pararchidendron pruinosum; Golden Wattle, Acacia pycnantha; Scribbly Gum, Eucalyptus haemastoma; and Hakea cristata;

I loved the fig forest;BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2135 the banksia collection  (from the the tall Acorn or Orange Banksia, Banksia prionotes, to the prostrate Creeping Banksia, Banksia repens;BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2115BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2118 and the amazing stonework. The first photo is Banksia integrifolia Roller Coaster falling over a dry stone wall in the Grevillea section of the Banksia Garden, while I loved the patterns in the rough sandstone slab in the Connections Garden in the second photo.  BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2280BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2128 The pond and waterfall was a beautiful and refreshing centre piece,BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2068BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2083 as well as a great learning facility.BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2176BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2170 And we loved the colourful entrance garden, showing the unlimited potential of Australian native wildflowers, particularly in Winter!

 

Clockwise from top left: Bush Gem, Anigozanthos Bush Tenacity; pink Gomphrena canescens with Golden Everlasting and blue Scaveola; Banksia spinulosa and gold and red Strawflowers.

We then drove round the one-way route to the different themed areas, each complete with picnic tables, lawns and ablution blocks. We loved the analemmatic Sundial of Human Involvement set within a planting of Araucarias (Kauri; Bunya Bunya; Hoop and Norfolk Island Pines).BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2220BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2215 The 360 degree view from the top of the hill was magnificent, if not a little distressing seeing the encroachment of Sydney and the main highway teaming with traffic! The first photo looks east over the Princes Highway to Campbelltown, while the second photo looks north over the garden to Narellan and then Penrith.BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2222BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2213The Big Idea Garden had some wonderful suggestions to help reduce, reuse and recycle valuable resources into your garden from developing waterwise gardens (water tanks, drip irrigation and planting waterwise plants) to mulching and composting, correct pruning, turf care and fertilising. Some of the plants included Banksia spinulosa spinulosa Birthday Candles and Sturts Desert Pea, Swainsona formosa.BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2231BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2232The Wattle Garden features many of the 950 species of Acacia, many just coming into bloom- such a variety in plant size; leaf shape and flower colour and shape!BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2256 Their peak flowering season however is in August! Here are some of the more unusual species: the prostrate Acacia saligna Springtime Cascade; Leafless Rock Wattle, Acacia aphylla; and Acacia cognata Fettuccine;BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2268BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2270BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2248I love Banksias and other Proteaceae (including Grevilleas, Waratahs and Hakeas), so could easily spend more time in this area. Here are two photos from the Grevillea section: Grevillea pilosa and Diels Grevillea, Grevillea dielsiana; BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2278BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2289But alas, time was still limited and we had to make it up to our accommodation in the Blue Mountains before the school pickup traffic, so we look forward to future visits to explore all those areas we missed – the Callitris Grove; the Kurrajong Arboretum; the Western Garden; the Ironbark woodland; and the Eucalypt Arboreta, as well as the Australian Plant Bank (https://www.australianbotanicgarden.com.au/Science-Conservation/Australian-PlantBank).

Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mt Tomah

Bells Line of Road Via Bilpin 2758

Open daily except Christmas Day

Monday – Friday: Gardens 9.00 am to 5.30 pm ; Visitor Centre 9am to 4.30pm

Saturday, Sunday and public holidays: Gardens and Visitor Centre 9.30 am to 5.30 pm

Free Entrance

https://www.bluemountainsbotanicgarden.com.au/

https://www.bluemountainsbotanicgarden.com.au/MtTomah/media/Tomah/Visit/PDFs/BMBG-Visitors-Guide-Map-pdf.PDF

I have discussed this wonderful botanic garden before in my post on Botanic Gardens. See: https://candeloblooms.com/2016/01/07/favourite-late-20th-century-botanic-gardens/.

BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-11BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-37BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-85BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-81In fact, we call in every time we visit the Blue Mountains and there is always something new to see and discover, like our beautiful native banksias, waratahs and Xanthorrhea or the giant Puya from the Chilean Andes in full bloom.BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-33BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2095BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-83BlogWinterGardens5017-11-09 12.56.04 This time, it was the South African native flora: the Proteaceae family, as well as gerberas of warm and cool colour ranges, aloes, geraniums and gazanias, all of which were in full bloom and which totally captivated us! BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-105BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-110BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-64BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-96BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-70The cyclamen under the trees in the Pergola Garden were a visual treat!BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-101BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-100There was even one of my favourite Sasanqua camellias, Star-above-Star Camellia, a fitting way to finish this double post of Winter Gardens!BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-125BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-128

 

Winter Gardens to Visit: Part One: Camellia Gardens

Well, Spring has officially sprung and the long hard Winter is over, even though I accept that we have it much easier than some other areas inland or at lower latitudes and higher altitudes! The frosts are pretty persistent though, especially this last Winter!!

To celebrate the demise of Winter, I have written two posts about a few gardens worth visiting next Winter! Last June, we headed north to see my mum in Queensland, so we wanted to visit a few bucket-list gardens along the way, particularly those who shone in Winter!

Here in Australia, they include camellia gardens and those devoted to Australian and South African natives. While July is probably the peak time to view camellias, it is also school holiday time with accommodation in short supply and lots of holidaymakers, so we decided to travel in June and take our chances and we were not disappointed! This week, I am featuring two very special camellia gardens, while next week, we will visit two native gardens.

Camellia Gardens

EG Waterhouse National Camellia Gardens

104 President Avenue Caringbah South NSW 2229

Monday to Friday 9am to 4pm; Weekends and Public holidays 9.30am to 5 pm.

Closed on Good Friday; Christmas Day and Boxing Day

Free entrance

http://www.sutherlandshire.nsw.gov.au/Outdoors/Parks-and-Playgrounds/Parks/Camellia-Gardens-Caringbah-South

Named after Professor Eben Gowrie Waterhouse (1881-1977), an international camellia expert and linguist, who was the first President of the International Camellia Society in 1962, this 2 hectare camellia garden was opened in July 1970. It was a Bicentenary project of the Sutherland Shire Council to commemorate the landing of Captain James Cook at Kurnell in 1770.BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN1981It was established on the site of the old Matson Pleasure Grounds, a recreational complex, which was developed by Frederick Francis Matson in 1902 on the shores of Ewey (now Yowie) Bay and hosted many picnics, dances and boating events until its closure in World War One.BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2022We parked on President Avenue and entered from the top of the gardens, but they can also be accessed via a lower gate and parking area off Kareena Rd. It was a wet day, but fortunately we were able to wander round the garden between showers, even enjoying some welcome Winter sunshine, before retreating to the tea house with the next downpour! The Devonshire tea and scones were an added bonus!BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN1966Outside the tea room is a fountain dedicated to Captain Cook’s wife Elizabeth (1742-1835), who is often in the shadows, so it was great to learn a little about her life. She certainly was a stayer! I was amazed to read that she really only spent 4 years of her married life of 17 years with Cook and that she outlasted him by 56 years, dying at the age of 93 on 13 May 1835. She also outlasted all her six children, including two of which died in infancy, with her last surviving son dying in 1794.

She would have seen so many changes in her lifetime from the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites at Culloden in 1746; the Seven Years War between Britain and France from 1756 to 1763; the Boston Tea Party 1773 and the American War of Independence 1775 to 1783; the storming of the Bastille in Paris and the French Revolution in July 1789; the Battle of Trafalgar 1805 and the Battle of Waterloo 1815; and the reigns of Mad King George (George 111) and his sons George IV 1820 and William IV 1830. It was also the age of slavery and its eventual abolition; the start of the Industrial Revolution (1760 to 1820) and the development of the first railway between Stockton and Darlington in 1825; and the start of Australia’s colonial history with the first fleet of convicts arriving in May 1787.BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN2026But back to the camellias! There are over 600 camellias in the garden with over 450 individual species and cultivars, which can also be seen in the digital catalogue on the Camellias Australia website, as well as in a register kept at Sutherland Library. See: http://camelliasaustralia.com.au/gardens/e-g-waterhouse-national-camellia-gardens/.

Many of the camellias are quite old and rare, forming a Camellia Ark of 75 endangered cultivars and species. For more about this project, see: http://camelliasaustralia.com.au/gardens/camellia-ark/. It is a fabulous initiative!

In March 2014, the gardens were awarded the International Camellia Garden of Excellence by the International Camellia Society and they are only one of forty such gardens in the world and the only one in New South Wales. See: https://internationalcamellia.org/about-this-programme.

While we were a little early for the full spectacular display, we still saw a number of them in flower. The camellia season starts in Autumn with the blooming of Camellia sasanqua (Autumn to early Winter), followed by Camellia japonica varieties from late Autumn to Winter and Camellia reticulata from midwinter to September/ October.

They are in turn followed by Spring annuals, then roses during the Summer months. Paths meander through the garden, leading to lush lawns, a creek and two duck ponds. It really is a lovely small garden and is popular with picnickers and wedding parties.BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN1990BlogWinterGardens20%DSCN1986If you love camellias and your appetite still needs satisfying, then a visit to the old home of the great man himself is essential!

Eryldene Historic Home and Garden

17 McIntosh Street Gordon NSW 2072

Ph (02) 9498 2271

Open every second weekend from April to September from 10am to 4pm.

Adults $12; Children (6 to 16 years) $5; Family (2 adults and 2 children) $30; Concession (Seniors and students) $10; Eryldene and National Trust members Free.

https://www.eryldene.org.au/

This is the camellia lovers’ mecca! We adored this garden for its camellias naturally, but also its history, architecture and oriental aesthetics. Built for Gowrie and Janet Waterhouse in 1914 in collaboration with neo-colonial architect William Hardy Wilson, ‘Eryldene’ was named after Janet Waterhouse’s family home in Kilmarnock, Scotland. It is a beautiful house and guided tours are conducted on the hour, but again because of the rain, we explored the garden first up!BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-134The one-acre garden is a series of garden rooms, which contain a number of delightful architectural features including a temple, built from six recycled ionic columns, and flanked by two specimens of the camellia, La Pace Rubra, both planted back in 1914 ;BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-136 an outdoor study, the professor’s retreat from the hectic bedlam of four boisterous sons;BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-181 a walled fountain;BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-176 a Georgian-style pigeon house with a gilded tympanum;BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-175 a Moon Gate and tennis court;BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-188BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-196 an oriental Tea House with gold-tipped vermilion flagpoles for blue and red dragon flags;BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-182BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-200 a meditation garden with a sculptured rock pool and a Georgian-style timber screen.BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-225There are also many beautiful large old camellias, as well as Japanese maples, azaleas and rhododendrons, datura and windflowers.

During our visit, I discovered that apparently, camellias had fallen out of favour at the end of the 19th Century. Nevertheless, Professor Waterhouse still planted six camellias in 1914, four of which still survive today: two specimens of La Pace Rubra at the entrance to the Temple and a Contessa Collini and Iris either side of the front gate. By the time of his death in 1977, aged 97, he had collected 700 camellias, many growing in tubs.BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-203In between exploring the garden and the old house, we enjoyed a cuppa in the one of the two loggias, originally the boys’ bedrooms. Mrs Waterhouse was a strong believer in the health benefits of bracing cold fresh air!BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-144BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-231Eryledene is listed on the National Estate and the NSW Heritage Register and it is worth reading the following website for more detail about the property: https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/heritageapp/ViewHeritageItemDetails.aspx?ID=5045350.

It is now managed by the Eryldene Trust and maintained by the Friends of Eryldene, many of whom belong to NSW Branch of the Australian Camellia Research Society (http://www.camelliasnsw.org/), as well as Camellias Australia (http://camelliasaustralia.com.au/).

They are such a friendly and informative group and we thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon with them. They also recommended a future visit to another local camellia garden, Lisgar Gardens (http://www.hornsby.nsw.gov.au/lifestyle/sports-and-recreation/parks-and-playgrounds/lisgar-gardens). Maybe next time!BlogWinterGardens2016-01-01 01.00.00-141Next week, we will be visiting two wonderful inspiring native gardens, the Australian Botanic Garden at Mt Annan and the Blue Mountains Garden at Mt Tomah.

Oldhouseintheshires