It depends on what you are calling "flax"
The commercial oil and fiber flax is Linum usitatissimum
There are others: L. flavum, Golden flax, per. from Eur. yellow
L. grandiflorum, reddish pink flowers, annual, N. Afr. often in
L. narbonense, Mediterranen flax, per. blue flowers
L. perenne, per. Blue flowers, Eur/Asia
L. lewisii, W. Blue Flax, per. native to W. US.
These are mostly pretty hardy. (There are about 200 species of Linum.)
The other"flax" is New Zealand Flax or Phormium tenax.Tall,, about 8
long leaves come from the ground and are strappy. Many cultivars are
used in landscaping: green leaves , bronze, reddish.very striking
(used by flower arrangers) Tender, zones 9-10, maybe 8.
This is fascinating! As I said in the previous post, I had no idea there
were such different plants all called "flax". I certainly didn't know what
the actual linen fiber flax plant looked like nor that it was grown on the
Canadian Plains. Thanks for the info. I'm off to study up.
One thing I did see already is that the flax is on one of the few plants
capable of producing a true blue flower. I do so LOVE blue flowers.
According to Wyman's Garden Book, Linum usitatissimum, is an annual.
So if you are going to harvest it for linen, it doesn't matter if it
or hardy in your zone. Blue flax flowers are really lovely, very
I grow L. lewisii here in NorCal. Good luck with your linen
I don't think I'll be doing any weaving but I wouldn't mind trying
retting some flax just to see how it is done. Do you weave? Have you
read the book "WOMAN'S WORK: The First 20,000 Years"? It's fascinating
-- even if you aren't a weaver. :)
No I'm not really a weaver, but I have done some funky wallhanging
for flower shows. Right now I'm trying to finish an embroidery sampler
started years ago and just relocated! The book sounds interesting;
I'll look it up.
I am told weaving (fabric) is very relaxing.
On 1/29/07 9:43 PM, in article
I missed the OP, but I know the Londonderry NH Historical Society has a flax
bed. They actually make up a small about of linen thread every year.
And Emilie - welcome back to stitching and I thank whom ever recommended
Woman's Work. I'm going to ask the library to find it for me.
If you don't mind used books, check out www.fetchbook.info
That engine will search for the best priced books from lots of available
online sources and sometimes it's just as cheap to buy it as to drive and
get it. They also list new books, too, but the whole site is run by best
If this link works, it will give you the page listing for Women's Work:
The book utterly fascinated me. I've reread it a few times.
Oh, one more tip when you use Fetchbook. When the listings come up, just
above the bright blue bar will be a tab that says, "ALL EDITIONS". Check
out what's there. Hardcover books are often cheaper than paperbacks in
the used book market. ;)
Thanks Cheryl. I used to do a lot of stitchery when we lived in Ohio!
back in Calif. the garden work takes precedence. Lots of good and
info on Flax from all.
** FW **what about making paper from your flax, or making
a combo of flax and papyrus??
With those brilliant blue flowers, Linum lewisii is a staple here in
Santa Fe (Zone 5). It's a short-lived perennial that often reseeds,
so it's good for gardeners who are flexible about design--not so good
for those who want a blue plant /right there/ for years and /nowhere
else/. Outside the arid West, it would need a spot with good drainage
where rain and snow don't collect.
It's often said to do better from seed than transplanted, though that
hasn't always been my experience. It often blooms the first year from
seed. Try planting it as soon as possible, as it likes the cold. An
ad for a nursery here suggested throwing the seeds on top of snow, but
I don't know what would keep the birds from eating them.
I like the way the regrowing plants look in late winter and spring,
with stems sticking out in all directions, kind of symmetrically.
I've heard the straw makes good mulch. It's rough to the touch--
because of those strong fibers? And of course you should use it only
where you don't mind those blue flowers popping up.
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