Midsummer Sampler: month 3
Welcome to month three of the Jardin de Lavande, Parterres Nord & Ouest.
Our journey this month takes us to the outskirts of Paris and to the best known garden in France: Versailles. It was created for Louis the XIV - the Sun King - who remains the world's longest reigning monarch, ruling France from 1643 until 1715.
The royal gardener, Andre Le Notre, began work in 1661 and it took four decades to create two thousand acres of elegant gardens, designed to be in total harmony with the palace. From the Hall of Mirrors a formal axis stretches as far as the eye can see, including the mile-long canal - which took a decade to excavate - adorned with Gondolas brought from Venice along with a team of Gondoliers. Pools of water reflected light into the palace, arrow-straight pathways and dainty parterres provided the perfect setting for courtiers to promenade (and shady groves for them to get up to no good).
The royal obsession with oranges continued and courtiers were expected to relinquish their own prized trees to adorn the vast Orangery. Louis was so pleased with the gardens that he wrote his own guide, How to Show the Gardens of Versailles, lest visitors miss any of the 400 statues or 50 fountains. And those visitors could include French citizens, who were allowed to walk in the gardens under one condition: they had to be suitably dressed. Those without the required finery could rent an outfit at the entrance.
One little known fact about Louis XIV was his penchant for hot chocolate, although at the time it was rumoured to be an aphrodisiac which may have had something to do with it (Louis is better known, like many of his predecessors, for having many mistresses). His great-grandson, Louis XV was equally smitten - with both chocolate and mistresses - as was Marie Antoinette.
In keeping with our inspiration, this month we are making not one but two Parterre blocks. They both use very similar techniques - the snowballed corner that we explored in last month's Pannier block - but with very different results. Both also make use of the bold Gwendelyn print, pairing it with Pauline and the whimsical Farm Tools.
Finally there is a Christmas treat in this month's parcel: an enamel Pannier pin, which I hope will always be a lovely reminder of this year's block of the Month programme. I think it's only right that we toast the New Year with a glass of Champagne. Or should that be Hot Chocolate? What ever you choose, Andrea and I send you our warmest wishes this Christmas.
This month's techniques...
This month we are working with directional fabric, that is, the Maple Farm prints which have a definite 'right way up'.
When piecing the corner units of the Parterre Nord block, I marked the centre corners which were not being snowballed with a water-soluble pen.
I also marked the 'outer' corners of the print squares for the centre unit, so that I could draw my diagonal line in the right direction
Also bear in mind that the print will appear to 'change direction' when you flip the squares open. Test before you trim.