How Does Your (Wildflower) Garden Grow?

I’m nowhere near done charting plants, but I’ve already started thinking ahead about how I will use the designs. The current idea is to make a large, rectangular piece with all of the often-overlooked flowers one might find on a sandy roadside in spring. Future pieces might feature the showier things like bluebonnets and paintbrush, and so on.

Gerda did a number of pieces like this, putting together assemblages of wildflowers or “weeds” in designs like this:

Pin på Gerda Bengtsson Danskt broderi

(I actually have this kit!)

Since I changed charting programs, I’ve put all of my designs into one big file as well as saving them singly. This lets me keep track of what I’ve got, what the color balance is, whether things are staying at the same scale, etc. It looks like this:

There they all are! That’s not how I’d arrange them, of course. The software will let me move them around, put some behind others, etc. Right now the Gaura looks way too big, but I will be working on adding some more tall plants, so it won’t stick out so much in the final lineup.

Once I saw them all together, it was obvious that the bluets I began with were much too big, and so was the Golden Hedge Hyssop. They were the right size to play with one another, but too large to go in with the others. I spent a good long while making smaller versions of all four designs. Here are the two sets of bluets together:

Wherever size bluets are needed, I’ve got the bases covered.

Fun discovery: In looking for the Gerda photo up there, I Googled “Gerda Bengtsson weeds” and guess what was one of the images returned as a result?

Hee hee hee! I wonder if people will stumble into this little blog and have a look around?

I’m Not Dead

I’m just working on writing a big book about plants rather than drawing them up and charting them for stitchery.  But the bluets are up, the mockingbirds are singing, and creative juices are stirring.  Perhaps over Spring Break next month I’ll devote a day to finally getting that Scarlet Pimpernel right…

Let’s Try Those Little Pony Feeties Again

It’s hard to draw flowers when your heart is full of stress and worry, but today was a little better than how the last crazy week has been, so I’ve given the Dichondra another go.

I looked back at my sketches, and actually had one with the leaves enlarged.  I charted them up and used them, plus the flowers from the smaller drawing.  This is the result:


It’s a little hard to envision that, just from a black and white grid that doesn’t screen-cap particularly well.  So here is how the flowers would look on that taupe.  (Not the color I’m going to use, but it makes a nice display on the computer.)


That’s not too bad.  The stem and that one tiny light leaf should stitch up more green and less yellow.   And you can’t really see it, but there are little purple anthers.

Hmm.  I think I need to go back and put in one more petal-color stitch at the bottom center of the fully open flower.  But I think I like it!

Wow.  That’s actually going to be a heck of a lot of stitching.  There are a lot of stitches in those leaves.

Here’s what it might look like over one:


That is just about right.  Compare:


And I think it looks Gerda-ish.  What do you think?

Not Neglecting, Just…Not Connecting

I’ve been working on other things, but I haven’t been entirely idle.  I’ve tried sketching a few more tiny things, but I’m just not feeling a “click.”

Remember our friend Scarlet Pimpernel?


I tried a sketch, and I don’t love it.  Even though the petals can be pointed, I think the shape is just wrong here.  I need rounded petals, and shorter flower stalks  Back, as they say, to the drawing board.

anagallis take one

I’ve had a little more luck with Ponysfoot, Dichondra carolinensis, which is in the morning glory family.  It’s mostly a weed here, though in other places it’s grown as a lawngrass substitute.  (It certainly would like to take over my lawn!)  The stems run along the ground and root at the nodes.  It has cute round leaves and teensy flowers that are whitish, pale green, or pale yellow.


Many people don’t know it has flowers at all, because you have to get down on their level to appreciate them.  Who wouldn’t like purple anthers?

I’m quite happy with the leaves and stem in the sketch below, but the flowers are… what?  Too large in proportion to the leaves, I think.


Time to blow up the leaves and shrink the flowers, hopefully meeting in the middle with something that says “chart me.”

They can’t all work on the first try!



Last, and Actually Least

The smallest of our local bluets is Houstonia micrantha, the Southern bluet. That specific epithet means “tiny flower,” and boy, do they live up to the name!  The white blossoms are only a few millimeters across.  Houstonia rosea (the pink one) is shorter, but has larger flowers.

ho_micr-claude bailey

Image by Claude Bailey, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

These flower at the same time as the other bluets and are frequently found in mixed populations.  Here are H. micrantha and H. pusilla growing together:

image of Houstonia micrantha, image of -

Photo by J. K. Marlow.

It’s not unusual to find white-flowered individuals of H. pusilla in a population, but the size of the corolla and the stature of the plantslet you know they’re not H. micrantha.

Here is a pretty dirty sketch.  I didn’t like that one side-view flower, so I redrew it above.


And the hand-drawn chart, with corrections and color notations.


Again, I’ve played with four different colorways for the foliage.  It doesn’t seem to matter to the eye.  They all say, “bluet.”  In the field, the vast majority of plants will have foliage that is simply chlorophyll-colored, and the brain sorts it out by texture.  (The best looking-out-the-car-window-at-60-mph plant identifier I ever knew was red-green colorblind.  He could tell EVERYTHING apart by texture alone, though Christmas decorations were sadly lost on him.)

Here’s the chart as output by the program.  It’s hard to see the stems.  A good printout (rather than a screen-cap) would have them as distinct black lines.


I can’t  show  you a color-block chart on white because–go figure–the white squares disappear into the background.  But here is how the bluets might look stitched on taupe:


Or, if stitched life-size:


I think, on a background sufficiently distinct from white, I won’t need to outline the flowers or delineate the border between the tube and the flared part of the corolla.  (Botany lesson: the term for flowers shaped like this is salverform, with the narrow part  of the blossom termed the tube, and the spread-out part is called the limb.

And see–they do play well with the blue ones!


I’m still not sure they look like something Gerda drew, but I’m pretty happy with them.  I’ll try to make sure the next plant I chart up is one Gerda also did, so that we can make a direct comparison.

Time for Some Lemony Sunshine

East Texas has another spring wildflower that’s as tiny as bluets.  Often they grow together, and I’ve seen at least one herbarium sheet that was a mixed collection (oops!)  Rather than purple, bluish, pink, or white, however, Golden Hedge-hyssop (Gratiola flava) has flowers that are a bright, clear lemon yellow.

Image result for gratiola flava



(Image from





This little member of the Figwort family is tiny.  Written out, the common name is longer than the plants are tall!  Belly botany, for sure.   Texas’ other species of Gratiola are all much bigger.

Gratiola flava only grows in areas of loose sand and is endemic (found in a limited area) of East Texas and Louisiana.  I used to see them at Lick Creek Park all the time, when I was out there more often than I am now.  The paired leaves vary from oval to long-elliptic, and the tubular flowers are slightly curved. The petals are fused, with the corolla having four lobes—one of which is larger than the other three because it is actually two petals fused together.  The fruits are pointed-ovoid.

This is another plant I’ll have to draw twice or more life-sized to capture detail and then stitch over-one.

Here’s a pencil sketch.  Probably some of the leaves should be more oval and less linear, but I have flowers, a bud, and a couple of fruit.  (I know the leaves look like the ones I drew for the bluets, but both have sessile, paired, narrow, toothless leaves.  I promise not all of my plants will have such generic-skinny leaves!)


The pencil sketch, inked.  (I’m using a Sakura .01 Pigma pen, and my fancy paper here is a piece of scrap I pulled out of the recycle barrel at work.)


First approximation of a chart, with notations as to color.  I’ve started a color/symbol list for my charting program so that the same symbol will be the same color in any of my charts.  Fewer headaches that way!  I won’t have to rechart if I combine designs.


Again, the charting program doesn’t handle colors perfectly, particularly the yellowy greens.  I did the foliage in three different colorways.  I may adjust the colors of the flowers when I stitch, because there needs to be enough difference so that you can see the tube, the spread corolla, and the deeper-toned middle (deeper only because of shadow–the flowers really are just solid lemon–DMC 307).  The colors of floss I specified aren’t very different in the program.  I think they’ll be more distinct in actual floss.


And here is what the little plants would look like stitched on taupe.


Golden Hedge-hyssop isn’t familiar to many people, but I like to think that anyone who knows it would recognize it here.  Especially if it were stitched up life size:


Stitching will have to wait, because I want to do a group of different teeny-tinies all together and, depending on how I arrange them, I will probably need to shift the foliage colors around for balance.  Can’t have all the DMC 3346 ending up on one side of the work, now can we?

I’ve Got a Little List…

Now that I have an idea of what it’s going to take to go from plant to sketch to hand-drawn chart to finished chart, I need to decided what to do next.  Cue the new little notebook, nice pen.  There are lists to be made!  (I’ve included links to some virtual field trips for you, so it’s not just a barrage of words.)

I really want to do a long banner-like piece with some of the overlooked spring flowers.


That… That is a lot of plants.

You might think I’d want to jump right in with showy paintbrushes and bluebonnets and the other spring show-stoppers, but those have been done.  Many times, by many people.   Still, if I ever run out of ideas, I may come back to this list, or pull a few of them for the other spring banner:


The tiny bluets will be wanting company:


Can’t forget the plants of Lick Creek Park.


And I have so many pleasant memories of the bogs in Leon County.


Not to mention mucking about in wet ditches.


I managed to think of some favorite plants from the outcrop in Grimes County where the plant I named grows.


Now, these lists may not all end up as large pieces, with multiple plants per design, but they do form coherent assemblages.  I can make individual designs or multi-plant designs.  I had probably come up with a standard set of symbols, though, or when I start combining individual charts into bigger ones, there is going to be a ton of confusion.

There are some plants from Uvalde County that are worth immortalizing in thread.


Oh!  And sandy bits around those Leon County bogs have some fun plants too:


Gaillardia amblyodon” is just fun to say.

I ought not forget the fall wildflowers–though climate change has half of these blooming in the summer now.


I think it would be fun to do a big panel with nothing but members of the bean family.


And if beans, why not mints?  Mints are nifty.


There should be a Trans-Pecos list too, at some point.  And you’ll notice there aren’t any trees and shrubs.  That’s a whole ‘nother ball game.

Ack.  What a lot of names.  You know what I’ve done, don’t you?  I’ve terrified myself with the sheer scope of this project, and now I’m to paralyzed to begin.  There are easier projects to hand, like that vegetable quilt, the Portuguese rug I’m charting from photos, and any number of partially-completed cross-stitch pieces…

Stop!  Breathe, Monique.  Just pick a plant that calls to you and draw the darned thing.


That’s the sound of bluets popping up all over.  There are five, and I think I’m done for now.

This is what a color chart looks like.  I don’t generally work from color charts—I’ve just shrunk this down and screen-capped this since, if you squint, it looks like they’re stitched on white.

bluets color chart

It’s more or less how big they’d be stitched over one on about 30-count.  Slightly bigger than life size.  Over two, they’d be twice as big–truly gargantuan, but recognizable as bluets nonetheless, I hope!

This is how they’d look stitched over-one on a very fine taupe fabric.


Oh, those colors are going to be so much prettier in actual thread!

And if you were masochistic enough to stitch them on 40-count silk gauze, they might look something like this.  On my laptop, that’s a bit smaller than life size.  They’re bitty!

tiny bluets

So after less than a week’s work I have a chart that makes five little bluets.  I can mix, match, re-arrange, flip left to right, repeat for a border, etc.  It’s a very versatile pattern.  I might have to dig out the waste canvas and put some on a sweatshirt.  Or a bookmark.

So that’s bluets and draba.  I’ve got one design that would be more or less life size stitched over one on 32 ct and one that will be about right stitched over two.  I probably won’t put the two in the same finished piece, but now I have some good proof-of-concept samples, and I am MUCH more acquainted with my software and its eccentricities.  I just need to figure out how to make it quit putting stray stitches far outside the boundaries of the actual design so that it wants to print a chart with umpteen pages, all but two of which are essentially blank graph paper, I will be even happier!  (Actually, I just figured out how to to select and clear all of the area of the workspace that is not actual chart, so I’m good.)

Looking at things, I’m not sure either of these designs says “Gerda,” but they do say, “Monique!”  It tickles me that, after processing my sketches through graph paper and a charting program, how the charts look so much like my hand drawings!  Style is not lost in the process!

What’s next?  I think I need to find the good paper and the perfect pen, sit down, and make pretty little lists of what plants I want to do, and which ones might be in the same finished piece.  Just looking at the names is soothing.

shepherd’s purse    golden hedge-hyssop   pointed phlox    toadflax    sweet clover  spiderwort    day flower   blue-eyed grass   buttercup.

This is a lot of work, but it’s also fun and exciting.  There’s a real thrill to watching an idea take form, and it will be even more fun to see a finished stitchery.  Guess I’d better go  leave out a saucer of bread and milk for the brownies.   They are coming to stitch up all my designs for me, right?

The Bluets Are Popping Up

So I drew a few bluets.  And then I drew a few more.  Now I have five of them, sketched and rough-charted.  Slowly, I’m putting them into the charting program.  Two are done so far.


Again, the charting program can’t show a piece of cream-colored linen, and it doesn’t accurately portray the thread colors—the heart-shaped fruit will be a light green, not a brownish green—but this is enough to start with.  I can see a few leaves that need tweaking, and I might un-wiggly the stem on the right one, but overall, I think this says, “bluets” pretty well.

The flowers come in an assortment of shades, so there should be some nice variation.  I’ve tried to mix the greens up as well.  Of course, one could stitch all of them in the same colorway.