There is so much joy and delight in a flower garden. Gardeners work with nature to create an ever-changing display of beauty, and flowers are so beautiful and so transient. We want to celebrate them as they pass so quickly. How many of us can remember our mother’s flower garden with forget-me-nots, roses, chrysanthemums and irises. What flowers do you bring to mind? I always loved the spring flowers: promises of warmer weather and the brilliant colours of spring. I remember once travelling up on the bus from Dunedin to Christchurch and seeing a brilliant display of spring colour in a field: against the backdrop of the blue spring sky and the snow-clad Southern Alps, the fields were emerald green with lush spring grass, and in a field underneath the blossoming fruit trees was an old stone chimney, clearly from a cottage that had once been there. Surrounding this for several acres were daffodils that had spread over the years and were now in full bloom. Each year, the pink and white of the blossom trees, the yellow of the daffodils and green of the grass against the white mountains and blue sky were there for no one, but what a joy it was to catch a glimpse.

Now, to be perfectly honest, I am not a gardener. My family are all gardeners, keen gardeners. Visits to extended family always included a garden tour with the history and future prospects of each plant, the landscaping decisions and future plans for the garden, cuttings were taken and future exchanges promised. Just saying. Now, I personally can kill houseplants fairly reliably. Some survive, but no one knows why. I do appreciate gardens and I do have a working knowledge of plants but let’s face it, someone else needs to do the watering, weeding and tlc. So as a result I feel that quilting is an appropriate way to appreciate flowers. You can enjoy them without actually having to maintain a garden.

My mother was not only a keen gardener, she also sang, and as a result I know the (wrong) words to a number of songs, including ‘English Country Garden’ by Jimmie Rogers. Now I thought it might be nice to make a quilt based on the flowers and birds in the song: daffodils, roses, foxgloves and hollyhocks etc. So I checked the lyrics to check the flowers that he listed and of course the song went through my head like an earworm and now I can’t get rid of it. But, when I read the other verses, I went “what?” The third verse lists a whole lot of birds which are definitely American not English, like for example bobolinks, cardinals and tanagers Now you have to look up the lyrics! So now I have a dilemma, do I make quilt blocks based on the song and rename it “a transatlantic country garden”, or do I go with English birds and ignore the lyrics. Currently my thinking is to let the viewer decide.

My goal is to make quilt blocks for each flower and bird named in the song, but do it so anyone who makes up the pattern can choose their favourite flowers and birds.

So far, I’ve made up patterns for Hollyhocks, Phlox, Roses, Forget-me-nots, Gentians, and a few others. The hollyhocks block will come out in September as part of the ‘Seams to be Sew’ bloghop where the theme for this year is “A garden Party”

Today I’m going to share with you my gentian block. It’s a really pretty deep blue flower with five petals. I’ve stylized it and made it into a 6 inch block which can be combined to make a 12 inch block.


Gentian block 12 inches,. each flower 6 inches

I was initially thinking of making it with foundation paper piecing, but I decided that cutting templates and piecing it was easy to do, so why not. It also lends itself to English paper piecing.

Firstly, I printed and cut all templates

Pattern testing!

Secondly I arranged them as per the picture and cut the flower blue and the background green. Now, some gentians have a bit of variation of colour in each petal, so I used a variety of blues and then I cut a sliver of white to insert in the centre of each petal. This is optional!

Thirdly I placed each green piece face down on each blue petal in order around the circle. This kept my pieces in order and made it easier to keep track. I chain sewed each green background to its petal. Then, without cutting the threads, I pressed to the green and then to the blue, alternately so my seams would nest.

Adding the white slivers

I cut the threads and inserted the white or pale blue slivers in the centre of each petal. I folded the sliver in half, placed it on the petal. Placed the other piece of petal right sides down and sewed along the seam line formed by the blue petals. I then carefully used a kebab stick to unfold each petal and I pressed it flat.

I then joined all the petals together.

Sewing in the white slivers

I designed it with a centre dot to represent the centre of the flower which is always a bit darker, so I made applique circles by cutting the circle and gathering the thread around the circle and pulling it tight. This circle then appliqued onto the centre of the block.

To make the stigma and stamens, I made little black French knots and white bullion knots.

Then I trimmed and sewed the four 6 inch blocks together. I decided I liked them offset rather than all pointing in the same direction.

6 inch gentian block

I hope you enjoy making this block. It was really quite straightforward to put together, but could be English paper pieced or foundation paper pieced if you prefer. The pattern is in  UKQU and also on my website at www.duckcreekmountainquilting.com

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