Lady's Slipper; oh--just the sound of it conjures up such dainty imperial images. I looked it up on the Victorian Bazaar website listing the Language of the Flowers, and found, Win me, and Capricious Beauty. A prize without a doubt. It's botanical name, "Cypripedium reginae", suggests a regal title, and may explain why it's often called, 'Queen's Lady Slipper'. But another variety, known simply as 'moccasin flower' (Cypripedium calceolus), was mistakenly adopted as the state flower on February 3, 1893 by Minnesota State Legislature, before it was discovered and publicly declared a "fake" nearly a decade later, by the ladies of the Saint Anthony Study Circle of Minneapolis, who insisted that this particular flower species was not found there. (Good Heavens, this flower selection process is such serious business.) Anyway, a flustered legislature moved quickly to correct the situation and adopted the 'Showy Lady Slipper' on February 19, 1902, making everybody happy.
Here's a little more to think about while you're stitching. This pink-and-white beauty is actually an elusive rare orchid; a treasure to behold--having mostly vanished from its historical range due to loss of habitat. Slow growing, and taking between 4 to 16 years to flower, it thrives in swamp bogs and damp woods, and may be found by chance, in undisturbed coniferous forests, fen meadows and prairies, dune lags, seeping cliffs, shady meadows, and moderate zones 3-8 in the northern regions of the U.S. In 1925 Lady's Slipper became a protected species by Minnesota state law making it illegal to disturb the plant in any way. It's been the subject of horticultural interest for many years, and remains difficult to cultivate in a traditional sense. Although it produces a large number of seeds per pod, it spreads primarily by means of vegetative rhizomes. Typically, the flowers appear in late June and early July with one or two flowers per stem; on older plants, three or four. In some areas it may flower earlier and throughout the summer months. When all the right conditions are met, it is possible for the plant to reach a height of four feet and live for at least fifty years. Quite remarkable!
The stem has a hairy appearance, and these tiny hairs have been known to cause irritation to some people. Perhaps it is the plant's defensive mechanism to keep it from being eaten by insects and animals, or plucked by humans. The large ovate leaves are densely pubescent, abut 3 to 5 inches in length, and light green in color. A single rhizome can contain several stalks shooting up from the same rootstock. Petals are white with a pink "pouch" that varies from deep rose to magenta; and rarely one might find the entire flower all white or rose-colored.
COLORS: I loved stitching this flower block, the colors are so pretty, and I think the white-on-white petals worked well by filling them with satin-stitching so they aren't lost on the white background. For the lower petals I used two shades of pink #3607 & #917; center French Knots are yellow; leaves done in two shades of green; stem--a contrasting shade of dark green will make it stand out. But feel free use whatever colors you like. See more varieties here.
I'm really excited that some of you are going to be stitching along with me and making a state flower quilt--or just a few random blocks for other projects. As an aside, and in the spirit of handmade stitchery, Jenn sent me a link to this old state flower sampler that her great-grandmother made. I love it and and all the detail that went into it. What a treasure! And Deb sent me this picture (below), of another state flower sampler that her mother made. Also quite pretty, and awe inspiring!
With needle in hand . . . we now travel southeast to stitch up the Illinois VIOLET.