Palette Parade- Witch Hazel

So, I went to Seattle a couple of weeks ago. My first time anywhere on the west coast.  I am in love.  I simply adored the weather when we were there.  40s and misty/foggy most of the day, but somehow still bright and pleasant.  It was just beautiful. So many shades of grey.  The filtered light made all the flowers simply glow.  Yup, flowers in February.  But mild in the summer.  What a lovely climate…

We went for a walk at the Bellevue Botanical Gardens one morning.  We were still on east coast time, so we were up and ready hours before anything was open, which left us hours to leisurely stroll the gardens and snap photos.  It was so serene.  One of the first things to greet us was this spectacular witch hazel.  Remember now, this was early February- so, it’s winter!

The crisp yellow against the foggy trees was almost too much- we could have gone back to the car at that point and I would have been satisfied.

What are those scraggly pine trees in the background?  Larch?  I think it’s the same one that is on the Oregon License plate.  I love their irregular shape so much.  Our boring old spruces with their perfectly triangular forms just can’t compare.

Anyway, the witch hazel.  As if it wasn’t enough to find a sunny yellow flower against a foggy grey sky, each flower emerges from a base of deep rusty red.  That little bit of rust does a lot of things here-  it warms up what can be a very stark color combination, It adds a third color which can be useful when planning the design of a quilt, and I think it gives the composition a more organic feel.

Fabric images courtesy of Pink Chalk Fabrics

1. Carolyn Friedlander Architextures Hatch Grey 2. Robert Kaufman Quilter’s Linen Platinum 3. Sarah Watts Timber & Leaf Pine Stickers Yellow 4. Robert Kaufman Essex Linen Linen 5. Sweetwater Noteworthy Sing Out Loud 6.Tomotake Muddy Works Currants Yellow – Double Gauze Cotton 7. Michael Miller Fabrics Cotton Couture Khaki 8. Amy Butler Alchemy Memoir Zest 9. Carolyn Friedlander Architextures Map Grey 10.Robert Kaufman Essex Linen Putty 11.Moda Grunge Basics Maraschino Cherry 12.Robert Kaufman Quilter’s Linen Rust

My quilt mock-up is obviously a pretty literal interpretation of the blooms.  I think it would be fun to sew these free-form.  Because machine paper piecing is just not my thing.  It really wouldn’t take too long, right?  Sew, press, trim, then add the little rust triangle, repeat.  I have a quilty weekend coming up, so maybe…  I think for this one, I would hand quilt some irregular wavy lines, sort of mimicking the branch structure, from the bottom right up to the top left.

I went back and recolored my Candy Hearts Quilt with these fabrics as well.  Because that quilt was really bright 🙂  Love this.

Witch Hazel- Jelena by Ruth B McDowell

I also want to share a quilt I have admired for years, Witch Hazel by Ruth B McDowell.  This photo is from her book Fabric Journey.  It’s one that I have probably stared at for hours, trying to absorb all the fabric information that is incorporated into the work.  I adore all the pale greys she used for the background of this quilt, especially the one at the top with the branches.

9 thoughts on “Palette Parade- Witch Hazel

  1. This one really is inspired. I love Witch Hazel and I have been seeing them blooming here in DC the past week while on my daily walks! Your photos from the botanical garden are delicious and the one thing that really sets off the yellow/rust flowers is that great white/gray lichen growing on the branches. West coast moisture makes all sorts of cool stuff grow we don’t see much here in the east. What is the basic block for the Candy Hearts design? Windmill plus something? It might be helpful if you showed us a single block of your overall repeated block quilt designs in the rundown.
    Wouldn’t it be great to pick a plant or some theme and have a group design and construct challenge!

    • The moss and lichens were just so strange. Every tree had them! At first we thought the garden staff must be doing something to encourage their growth, but even the trees in the forest looked like this. I definitely need a macro lens next time I go back! I don’t know if the block has a name but basically it’s just half square triangles rotated and colored different ways. I would love to have a challenge based on a plant theme! Wonder if any one else would join in?

      On Wed, Mar 6, 2013 at 12:18 PM, Jessie Aller

  2. Hi Jessie, I love your quilt mock ups and color pallette, a refreshing take on our grey weather here in Seattle. The colors are there if you look for them, but by this time of year the soggy damp and lack of bright sun shine are driving most of us Seattlites to overdose on Starbuck’s! And nobody in their right mind does anything to encourage the moss and lichen. I am busy trying to stop it (and the slugs) from taking over my yard. I think the trees in the background of your photo are probably cedar trees. It’s nice to go somewhere new and see different things, and fun to see the familiar landscape through fresh eyes.

    • Hi Pam, How nice to get a comment from Seattle 🙂 And yes, we were lining up at Starbucks 3 times a day so maybe that’s why I was so happy the whole time… I understand how one could tire of grey skies and moss taking over the grass…but to my eyes it all seemed so lovely and exotic. It’s just the idea that it is something different. Who knows, maybe there is even someone who steps off a plane here in Washington DC in July and says, my, bless this baking heat and stifling humidity. Or maybe not.

  3. As a proud Oregonian, I can tell you that the tree on the license plate is the wonderful Douglas fir (watch the first episode of Twin Peaks…”Douglas fir!”). Not sure if the trees in the pictures you took are Douglas firs, but they’re all over the place in the Pacific Northwest.

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