Quilting in the Garden
By Patricia Littlefield
I have been to Houston and the International Quilt Festival. I know the way to San Jose and
have been to the Pacific International Quilt Festival. This was one was different: this was “Quilting In The Garden” in
Livermore, California. A one day, outdoor quilt festival that is not like any other. It is held in the Alden Lane Nursery,
a beautiful place filled with huge California oak trees, and the quilts are hung high in the air, between the trees. It is
a feast for the eyes and the soul.
“Quilting in the Garden” is the brainchild of Alex Anderson, one of the most well known
quilters in the country. She is a close friend of the owners of the nursery who approached her one day about utilizing
its grounds in some way, and thus “Quilting in the Garden” came to be.
Each year there is a featured quilter, and this year, it was Jan Krentz, whose collection
of quilts, both her own and others, were hung among the oaks for all to admire. It was a breathtakingly beautiful Fall
day in Livermore: (not too hot as it can be earlier in September) with a blue, blue sky and high floating clouds which
served as background for the hundred or so high flying quilts silhouetted against them. The visitors walked beneath and
around the quilts, viewing them from all sides.
Because the venue is a nursery, there were flowers everywhere, which added to the ambience
and color. There were also antique farm implements on display, such as a walnut sheller that contributed to the rural air.
Gratefully, there were many benches for patient husbands to sit on while waiting for their quilting spouses.
Also, there were other activities: Classes were taking place, there was a trunk show the
evening before the actual quilt show, and both Alex and Jan gave lectures twice during the day. Vendors had “quilters’
irresistibles” for sale and the nursery shop itself had unusual items as well.
It was interesting to me to note that there were obviously people there whose main purpose
was to purchase plants, not to look at the quilts, and they calmly wended their ways around the gawking quilters, pulling
their wagons filled with their selected plants behind them.
I spoke to Alex’s husband at length about the mechanics of hanging and taking down the quilts,
speculating that the staff must have to arrive about 3 a.m. of the appointed day in order to get the job done. He reassured
me that that was not the case: they arrive at seven, and by nine the quilts have been hung by local quilt guilds armed with
lots of clothes pins, on ropes that are strung between the trees and are raised and lowered by pulleys.
©2004 Patricia Littlefield