Hooked on Plants

Creative crochet puts a new perspective on the collections in a Glasshouse Range installation for Festival of Ideas.
Crochet lichen!Crochet lichen!
Since the beginning of the year, women of recently formed Cam City WI have been meeting at the Botanic Garden to make a display of crochet plants. With the final details now stitched in place the display is in situ in the Glasshouse Range from 24 October to 3 November during the Festival of Ideas.

Many of the makers were either complete beginners or fairly new to crochet. The first few months were taken up with learning the basic stitches while those with more experience helped teach beginners and experimented with leaf and flower patterns. But slowly, under the guidance of Joanne Scrace, tutor and WI member, confidence grew and by the spring the group were ready to start on the actual plants. With such a range to choose from, Joanne thought that it would be interesting to focus on plants that trail or climb. This fitted in well with the plans of Glasshouse Supervisor, Alex Summers, who is keen to raise the profile of trailing plants that grow in arid lands.

The group divided up into smaller teams to tackle individual species. Deciding on colours and yarn fibres was relatively easy - to fit in with our plant theme, natural plant fibres were chosen, using bamboo, linen and cotton yarns wherever possible. But devising the bespoke patterns and plans for making the plant structure was much harder. To help, Alex gave informative tours of the glasshouses collections so that people could see their plant growing and ask questions about size and structure.

The Garden's Education Officer, Dr Sally Marsh, was keen to be part of the team, and says, 'At the Botanic Garden we love anything fun to do with plants so late last year when the opportunity came up to crochet plants with the newly formed Cam City WI group we jumped at the chance. I am part of a group is making a plant called Epiphyllum oxypetalum, a fascinating epiphytic cactus. I can tell you that the prospect of crocheting a plant makes you look at it in a completely different way! Luckily our group had a couple of more experienced crocheters who are leading the way on how to make its thick glossy leaves. Still on our to-do-list however are creating the enormous white flowers and green stems and the most formidable task of all, putting it all together!'

You can visit the exhibition during normal Garden opening hours from 23 October to 3 November. On Saturday 26 October, you can Meet the Makers, the Cam City WI members behind the project, who will be on hand in the Glasshouse Range between 2pm-3pm, sharing their ideas and tips for taking up crochet, learning new skills and making new friends.
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