Gingko by Julie Kniedl
31st May 2019
There are many plants that we love for their beautiful foliage, and as we move through autumn here in Australia, we have been treated to the spectacular, seasonal colour displays of the botanical world. Much of the autumn colour in Australia comes from introduced species, as most of our indigenous trees are evergreens.
One of the deciduous trees that has been brought to our shores is the Ginkgo biloba, and Julie Kniedl in the book Botanica has depicted a stem of gingko leaves that are beginning to transform into their golden autumnal glory.
Ginkgo, or gingko, trees are the only surviving species of the division ginkgophyta and exist in the fossil records dating back many thousands of years.
They are commonly known as maidenhair trees as the fan-shaped leaves resemble maidenhair fern leaves.
In the relatively modern age, the long-living, hardy gingko is native to China, although wild populations are considered to possibly only exist in remote locations. Revered for its longevity, endurance and the beauty of its leaves, gingko trees have long been cultivated in many areas, particularly in China and Japan where it was often planted around temples and shrines. Some trees are believed to be over 1000 years old.
In the book Botanica you will find all the instructions you need to make your own lasting stem of gingko leaves. With only a handful of requirements, it’s one of the more straight-forward pieces in the book to recreate. Wired leaves of various sizes are stitched onto cotton fabric, and then cut out.
The stems are wrapped together in groups, with clear diagrams included as a guide, and are then assembled into one, main stem. To finish, you can take advantage of the wired stems and leaf edges to gently shape the leaves and turn them in different directions so that they fan out from the main stem.
If you’d like further gingko inspiration, myriad images are available online, but how about visiting a real tree? Gingkos have been planted in many countries around the world, and botanical gardens are a great place to start. Due to their hardy nature, gingkos have even been planted as street trees, including in Adelaide, the home of Inspirations. In those situations, it is hopefully the male trees that have been planted. The female trees produce seeds which have a fleshy outer layer that become, to put it politely, ‘on the nose’ as they ripen.
The smell is due to butyric acid present in the fleshy layer. It’s a strong, rotten, rancid smell and if you haven’t encountered a ripe gingko seed, you might remember it from school science lessons on esters. Butryic acid would have been the one that stank out the lab. Interestingly, the ‘offensive’ smell is transformed in the ester-making process into a nice, pineapple aroma.
In Adelaide you will also find gingko trees in the Adelaide Himeji Garden. This tranquil garden was planted to celebrate the sister city partnership of Adelaide and Himeji, Japan. One of the finest specimens in Australia is considered to be at Geelong Botanic Gardens, in Victoria.
Are there any gingko trees near you? Let us know! And if you make your own gingko stem, remember that we always love to see your creations, so please send a photo!
Make Your Own Gingko
Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions
An elegant twig of dainty, fan-shaped gingko leaves by Julie Kniedl from Botanica.
Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit
The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kit for Gingko includes everything you need to recreate this pretty stem of leaves: Fabric (unprinted), wires, embroidery threads and needles.