Hearts stitch journal, 22 May 2018

A glorious sunrise this morning and the usual crisp walk around the orchard. Our days are getting warmer but the night temperatures are still surprisingly low. My favourite rose, and indeed favourite plant, in the garden is coming into flower now. Rosa Roxburghii, the Chestnut Rose, is a species rose of great, modest beauty. The whole shrub is gnarled and interesting and it has beautiful, elegant leaves with 15 leaflets. The petals unfurl like damp, crumpled handkerchiefs into large, flat flowers some 10cm wide and are utterly irresistible to bees – by noon, every open flower will have its little winged visitor, buzzing noisily in ecstasy as she gathers pollen. The scent is delicate, like old ladies’ rose-scented powder. The name Chestnut Rose comes from the hips, which are covered in spines like a conker, as are the calyxes. Sadly, it flowers for only a short time, as the bees pollinate it quickly and the petals then drop, having done their duty, littering the ground with pink. I’ve shown the unpollinated flower, with its stamens still yellow, rather than the pollinated flower I brought inside for reference. Today’s threads are vintage orange rayon floss, modern Indian flosses in pink and variegated pale pink, and vintage Cartier-Bresson cream and yellow six-strand embroidery threads, sewn in one and two strands. The stitches are knotted chain for the heart, buttonhole with long-and-short infill for the petals, and pistil stitch, straight stitch and a ring of split stitch for the stamens. I enjoy stitching flowers with this buttonhole outline, which gives a nice definition to overlapping petals.

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