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Historical Sampler – Old Flower Cultivars compared to Today’s; and Mrs Christie’s Flower

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1 December 2008

Historical Sampler – Old Flower Cultivars compared to Today’s; and Mrs Christie’s Flower

Identification of Mrs Christie’s Flower

Mrs Christie didn’t provide an actual genus name for her flower and I thought I’d better try and identify it. I should have done this *before* embroidering it – to find if it was known by the Elizabethans, and the appropriate colours.

I found the following webpage :

Notes on Specific Plants

“The following notes are based partly on visual comparison between how a species looked in historical illustrations and how it looks today. 

Hopefully, this information will be helpful in the search for actual antique varieties and for  modern cultivars with the appropriate appearance. 

The table uses the common names for plants because some gardeners are not familiar with the Latin names.  Common names and scientific names are cross-referenced in the plant database;  search on the common name to find the plant's genus and species.”

For example,

Genus : Iris
Common Name : Iris
Notes : hybridizing efforts have focused on the "bearded" species (xiphiodes and xiphium, commonly called German, English, Spanish, or Dutch iris); hybridizers have been  most interested in introducing new color combinations; the form of the plant doesn't look much changed, so choose the colors carefully and these species will still work;
other species look largely unchanged since the 1600s

The list is by no means complete, but it’s something.

Looking at

Digby lists


as being in 16th Herbals and Gardening books. I know this list isn’t complete – what about borage?

Mrs Christie’s flower doesn’t look like any of these, unless you consider it a daffodil with it’s trumpet squashed.

I turned to Abraham Munting’s Decorative Flower Engravings – from the 1696 “Accurate Description of Terrestial Plants” as this is the only book that I had that could help me. It’s late period tho – right at the end of the 17thC.

I found several possibilities


Cistus Annuus Supinus


Campanula Pyramidalis Minor


Leontopetalon Capitatum Americanam

(an American native?)

I didn’t have any luck finding colour versions of the above. I did find some more general Campanulas at

Maybe it’s not meant to be a flower in particular – just a generic flower.

Mrs Christie does talk about basing her designs on embroidery from the 10th to the 17th C in her Introduction – or I never would have used the design in the first place.

My version


I was going to cross hatch the centre in plate.

I got one piece of plate down – right across the middle. (I should have taken a photograph).

However, I found it impossible to get the plate to attach on the sides of the ‘hump’ middle. You attach plate by bending over the end into a tiny hook, and catch the thread in that. The hump was too rounded to get the plate to stay in place on the sides.

(hmmm…lesson learnt re use of plate)

So I ended up doing a smooth layer of satin stitch over the centre (tricky at the sides!), and leaving it at that.

I was going to put a circle of Pearl Purl around the base of the centre, but if you look carefully, you’ll see that the centre isn’t quite centred. Adding Purl would magnify this – that the centre is almost touching the inner layer of Jap on one side.

In spite of plans awry, I like this flower. It’s pretty.

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Blogger JoWynn Johns said...

I like it, too, and thanks for all the references.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008  

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