More Good Things in More Small Packages

I could not let the Phlox languish unaccompanied. Very often, in the sandy places where Pointed Phlox is found, Dwarf Dandelions are also found. Think dandelions, but much, much smaller.

Turns out it’s hard to photograph these little goobers. The shiny yellow petals can bounce back enough light to blow out the camera sensor, resulting in an image like this:

Or this:

It can be very frustrating.

Krigia httpsnewfss3amazonawscomtaxonimages1000s1

That’s a random photo grabbed off the web, no photographer cited. If it’s yours, well done, you!

Some species have leafy stems, and they are plenty cute. Other species, like the Krigia occidentalis I want to stitch, are stemless. All the leaves are in a basal rosette, and they send up a naked flower stalk the way a large dandelion does. To my mind, these are even cuter. The local ones, at least, open and shut their heads on a time clock. You can walk through a carpet of them in the early morning and not know they are there. Walk back the same way in the afternoon, and there they all are, cheerful as anything!

I drew two, basing the leaves off herbarium specimens. (I have recently been working with the genus for the book I’m helping to write, which is probably what motivated me to tackle these now. My head was full of them.)

Both plants have an older flower head that is just the bracts from the head, which in life would be holding minute black achenes (fruits). The lower one has a flower head which has not yet opened. The leaves may be undivided or very strongly lobed. Note the memo to myself to make that one leaf shorter.

Graphed and inked.

This was a beast to graph and to put into the charting program. All those little stemmy lines! The squares of graph paper are small enough that a slight pen skitter (and it does tend to skitter, as the printer ink is just a smidge raised) can make it iffy which way the line should go. Does it cross a square on the diagonal? Or is it going over two and up one on a longer slant? Staring at my graph and trying to count the tiny squares just about drove me nuts. Stems. Bleargh. But the stems and petioles on this one are just too slim to be actual cross stitches. I tried that first, and it looked *awful*

They will, in all likelihood look better stitched than charted, because, if I stitch over one on a high thread count, I can do some “over three and up one” transitions and make the lines smoother without making the stitches too long; and if I stitch over two, I can move one thread at a time–over four and up one, etc.

So, finally, wrestled through the charting program:

That’s life size, or a bit bigger. I really, really like these. The two shades of yellow will be less orange in real life–the program strongly skews them. I threw in a withered-ish leaf for fun.

For my own amusement, I charted these on the same chart as I did the phlox, with the idea that when I came to design a piece with a group of plants that that all go together, they’d already be in the same file, with the same color key. Look how sweet they are together:

Want to see something even more fun? What if we put these children on black:

Pop! I adore this! I would never torture myself by doing a huge project over one on black—the large floral I have in 20 count on black is bad enough—but isn’t that stunning? It reminds me of the old German botanical anatomy charts that were lithographed on linen-backed paper.

One of the botanical wall charts from the College's collection

We used to have that pea when I was teaching botany. I believe we may have had the other as well, at one time, but it had gone missing before my time. We definitely had the cherry. It was my favorite. *If* you can find these charts in good condition these days, they go for a pretty penny. Not too long ago, someone published a book of German botanical and zoological charts from this golden era, and there is one of just botanical charts too.

When I finally get around to combining the designs in one piece, I’m going to need to make sure I have done what I said I was going to do (but haven’t, mostly), and that’s make sure they all have the same color key. Each blank file in the charting program starts out with a standard color palette and set of symbols, and as you design, you assign colors to the symbols you want to use. I tend to prefer the simpler, less fussy symbols that are recognizable even when the chart is very small, and these tend to be in all my charts, standing in for different colors. Look what happened when I tried to import the Scarlet Pimpernel into the same design.

Um, yeah. I need standard palette…