Monday, July 04, 2011

July's Flower of the Month - Water Lily

Did you know that the water lily is July's Flower of the Month? Symbolizing rebirth and purification, the water lily is a member of the Nymphaeaccae family. There are approximately 70 different species of this plant. They like to live in temperate or tropical climates. Water lilies are rooted in soil in bodies of water, with leaves and flowers floating on the surface.

The portrait above appeared in Curtis's Botanical Magazine in 1801. Begun in 1787, by William Curtis, a botanist at Kew Gardens, each issue was filled with artist renderings of plants, plus information and descriptions about their properties. The magazine continues to this day, and is published by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew near London, England. Kew Gardens currently houses the world's largest collection of living plants.

The French Painter, Claude Monet, liked water lilies so much that he painted them for the last 30 years of his life. He developed a series of paintings inspired by the plants in his own garden. Of them, he wrote, "It took me time to understand my water lilies. I had planted them for the pleasure of it; I grew them without ever thinking of painting them." Monet created 250 different paintings of water lilies, many of them currently residing in museums around the world. In 2008, one of Monet's original water lily paintings sold at auction for $80 million.

Quilters are also inspired by water lilies. In the 1930s, the Chicago Tribune published a quilt pattern column under the name of Nancy Cabot, pen name of Loretta Leitner Rising. With each quilt block illustration, Rising included a description or background about the block and how to purchase the pattern.

The description written under the Water Lily pattern is as follows: "The water lily design is a delicately realistic block with its soft coloring of cream, green and touches of light blue on a gold grown, with alternate blocks of white. The simple, clear cut lines in this floral pattern make it one that is particularly easy to applique. The quilted veins in the green leaves afford a pleasant variation from the less unusual quilt pattern."

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