Monday, April 20, 2009

Cottage Garden

Cottage Garden50" x 65"This quilt was an obvious choice for me to design because I LOVE everything about gardening. I even love the dirt believe it or not! I get really excited in the spring when the soil is perfect for planting and it smells fresh and full of nutrients for growing. I impatiently wait for the way the soil crumbles in my hand with just the right texture, which means it's ready for planting.
This might sound really strange to those of you who don't enjoy gardening- but to those gardeners out there; you know EXACTLY what I mean!
I named the quilt Cottage Garden because that is the kind that I grow and the kind that really speaks to me. Cottage means not quite so formal, with abundant plantings and LOTS of flowers with a good mix of fruits on the vine, flowering shrubs, herbs, veggies and a few shade and fruit trees.
The first block that I designed was the lawnmower. I drew the old reel kind because they have so much more personality and that’s what I remember using as a girl when mowing my section of the lawn (my Dad divided that chore up between us because we had so much grass). My husband still uses a reel mower to cut our front yard. He's very particular about his lawn and likes the front yard to look just like a golf green!
Next came the drawing of the hand tools- they go right along with my love of turning everyday objects into art. A wheelbarrow for hauling, a pitchfork for turning the soil, a spade for planting and pruners for the upkeep of what you just planted!
Of course, after good soil, a plant needs water which is where the watering can and the garden hose and spicket come in. I drew the red spicket to look like the ones that we had on my Dads farm. I remember finally getting big enough to turn them on and off for watering.
The 3rd thing that a plant needs is SUN. I drew a big one and put it next to the moon and the stars in the border.
O. K. What to wear in the garden? Who says you can't look good while doing yardwork? I really wanted to do an apron in this quilt also because I do wear one while I'm gardening but I couldn't fit it in without making the quilt HUGE! So I thought I could appliqué one on the back for the label- and so can you! I added boots for mud (and irrigation), a nice garden hat with a wide brim for sun protection and of course, really cute gloves.
I had fun doing the garden gloves. To me, these are a necessity while gardening, I wouldn't want to ruin my nails (after all, I am a girl). I drew some up that I thought would be fun to wear. The embellishments are cute too.
Of course I added a birdhouse and bees with a beehive. You know I like bees, I even named my company after them! Bees are also very important for the garden. They pollinate everything. Without bees there wouldn't be any gardens. I did have to add a few more bugs. The two that I like are ladybugs and butterflies. I HATE slugs, grasshoppers and ants but they're in the quilt too! (Whoops, I forgot to mention the worm which is a good kind of worm). Speaking of things that I've included in the quilt but despise- let’s talk about the dandelion and morning glory (bad kind) that I've added. I spend a lot of time in my garden pulling out both of these obnoxious weeds! (And to think I used to pick them and give them to my Mom for the kitchen windowsill).

Here's a photo of me with my 3 older sisters. I'm holding a dandelion- apparently this is upsetting to my sister Tammy who is dramatically
drying her tears with a hanky!
I added lots of veggies that I grow now in my garden and my Dad grew in his. My Dads garden of course was MUCH bigger than mine as he was raising a large family and had plenty of land. He has never been able to let "good fertile soil" go to waste , so he always planted seeds in everything that didn't have sheep, horses, cows or pigs on it. He always had the most beautiful gardens! One on each side of the house and fruit trees all around. He always bordered his vegetable garden with big yellow marigolds to help keep the bugs out (they don’t like the smell). Some years he would plant a row of GIANT sunflowers (russian mammoth variety) along the front. Anyway, they seemed like giants to a little girl. He sure produced a lot of food in those gardens. All of us kids would spend our summer mornings up at the crack of dawn picking peas or beans trying to get them done before it got really hot. I love fresh shelled peas, but what I really love are fresh tomatoes- warmed from the sun and delicious! I remember when I was a little girl, that me and my brothers Morgan and Brian would just sit in the tomato patch and eat them right off the vine. My parents didn't mind unless they were the early crop and there wouldn't be any left for the supper table! By the time fall came around I was sick of tomatoes after picking and canning bushels of them- and then during the winter would long for them again.
I put a red potato in the quilt because that’s what Dad grew and would sell in 50 lb bags during harvest time. I also spent a lot of time planting and picking up potatoes with my brothers and sisters.
I put a chicken in the quilt because I love chickens and they seem to go with gardens. I would have a chicken or two in my garden now if I wasn't afraid that my 15 lb. cat Oliver would hunt them down and kill them. We've had him for 13 years and he thinks he's a watchdog; he doesn't like any other animals in our yard.
My Dad raised chickens as a boy but not on his own farm- He said they were too messy and they smelled. We traded milk or cream for fresh eggs with nearby farmers.
I "planted" a lot of flowers in this quilt and included some of my favorites, although whenever I'm asked which flower is my favorite, I always say "whichever one is in bloom!" I especially love old fashioned flowers like single hollyhocks and pansies. My favorite roses are the old fashioned english and my husband and I grow several David Austin varieties in our garden.
I stitched a few sayings about gardens between the blocks and of course added a couple of my favorite scriptures about gardens. I also added a glass of lemon-ade because we all need to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature- what better way?
I finished the quilt with a fence around the garden. I have a white picket fence around mine and I really like the way fences define an outdoor space.

I hope you enjoy this quilt. It's really close to my heart. I know I talk a lot about my childhood memories but that’s why I love gardens! Aren't we all a product of our childhood? Please send me your own comments on gardening or as always, I would LOVE to see pics of your gardens or your Cottage Garden blocks or quilts.

Here are a few more photos of me and my sisters out in the pasture with our "pets". I told you at the beginning of this post that I love dirt and as you can see, I spent a lot of time outside playing in it. I'm no stranger to making mudpies and climbing trees!!!

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