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Well hello again! Our 2020 Spring Threadventure Garden Tour is speeding right along. We’re going cross-country today where we’ll have fun exploring a beautiful desert garden! Hop aboard the Serendipity Express with me and let’s take our magical virtual vacation tour bus to our fifth stop…


Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona.

And here we are…


Welcome to Desert Botanical Garden!


Desert Botanical Garden is the realization of the vision of Swedish botanist Gustaf Starck. Way back in 1939, he posted a sign that read “Save the Desert” and a small group of local citizens joined him in their quest to conserve their beautiful desert environment. In the past 80 years, it “has blossomed from a dream into a living museum”.

Admittedly, I don’t have much experience with cacti. They don’t like Alabama very much. But they fascinate me! Especially those with so many prickly spines like these cutie pies – golden barrel cactuses…

Golden barrel cactus are short and squatty - and covered with prickly spines.


Did you know that cactuses are indigenous to the Americas with just one exception? Yep – that’s right… the only other place on the entire planet that you can find native cacti is tropical Africa, Madagascar, and Sri Lanka. Pretty cool, huh?!

Today’s stitch, the staggered cross stitch, is a terrific option for cactus plants.

It’s particularly effective for stitching cacti like those you see on this lovely canvas from Purple Palm Designs. It’s called Desert Garden. Don’t you just L-O-V-E the colors and textures? What a fun canvas to stitch!


Desert Garden by Purple Palm Designs


And speaking of stitching, let’s take a look at the stitch diagram. You can see that the staggered cross stitch is actually a combination stitch.

So, what’s a combination stitch?

That’s a terrific question! A combination stitch is a stitch comprised of two (or more) stitches to create a brand new stitch. In this case, it includes two different sizes of cross stitches.

The first step in executing the staggered cross stitch is to work the larger cross-stitches. Follow the numbers on the diagram below and you’ll be golden!

Then, complete the stitch by working the small cross-stitches in the gaps between the larger cross stitches. Notice that the cross-stitches – the large ones and the small ones – are worked as individual units before moving across the row. Be sure to keep the top legs of each stitch unit going in the same direction so your work doesn’t look messy. 😉

And before I forget, the staggered cross stitch is a medium-size stitch so you’ll need ample space to establish the pattern.

Staggered cross stitch is a terrific stitch for the cactus on your desert themed needlepoint canvases.


I’m using Watercolours to work this stitch.

Watercolours is making an “encore” appearance, so you can click here to learn more about it.

Thread one strand of Watercolours (215 – Cilantro) in a #22 tapestry needle to execute the large cross-stitch in the staggered cross stitch pattern. Then, use one strand of that same color of Watercolours in a #22 tapestry needle for the small cross-stitch to complete the staggered cross stitch pattern. Work your stitch sample on a piece of 13 mesh needlepoint canvas.

Where will you use the staggered cross stitch?

Do you have a desert-themed canvas? Or will you use the staggered cross stitch for shrubs on a design with a garden theme? We’ll chat about some more uses for the staggered cross stitch at 3:00 p.m. CDT this afternoon during Needlepoint TV™ over on the Serendipity Needleworks Facebook page. I hope you’ll join me! 🙂

Before you go, please tell me how you plan to use the staggered cross stitch on one of your canvases down in the comments box below.

Don’t be shy – I ❤️ hearing from you and I read every single note.

And just to spice things up a little, I think I’ll do fun “giveaway” this week.

When you share your thoughts with me below, I’ll enter your name into the drawing for a Serendipity Needleworks needle minder. (squeeee!!!)

Alrighty, that’s all for now.

Thanks ever so much for joining me here and…

until next time, happy stitching!

XOXO!!! ❤️
Stitch with a smile!

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  1. Denise Hofer

    May 14, 2020 at 12:40 pm

    My son recently moved to Arizona and I picked up a canvas of cacti to stitch for him. I think I will try this stitch on one of the larger cactus on the canvas.

    • Ellen Johnson

      May 19, 2020 at 10:27 am

      Hi Denise!
      That sounds like a terrific idea! I hope your son is enjoying living in Arizona. It’s a beautiful state. Please be sure and share pictures of your progress in the Serendipity Needleworks Facebook group.

  2. Renee Grissom

    May 14, 2020 at 1:01 pm

    I also love the beauty Phoenix/Scottsdale area and have been itching to go back for a very long while. Very different from Southeast Louisiana, for sure! I look forward to our Threadventure this week.

    • Ellen Johnson

      May 19, 2020 at 10:29 am

      Hi Renee!
      How nice to hear from you. 🙂
      Being from Louisiana where everything is green, you know firsthand what a “shock” to your system it is to find yourself in the middle of such a different kind of landscape. I agree with you – it’s beautiful in its own unique way.
      Have a happy Tuesday!

  3. Ava Sloane

    May 14, 2020 at 2:01 pm

    Hi Ellen. I so wish I had known about this stitch before I finished my cactus canvas. It would have definitely added some visual interest! But, I know there are many more canvases in my future! Thanks.

    • Ellen Johnson

      May 19, 2020 at 10:30 am

      Hi Ava!
      Thank you for your note. It’s great to hear from you! You’ll have to share a picture of your project with us in the Serendipity Needleworks Facebook group!
      Have a happy Tuesday!

  4. Susan Nix

    May 14, 2020 at 2:43 pm

    I can use this for foreground shrub stitches on a needle crossings canvas using Planet Earth foliage 6 ply silk. This is one of my favorite ‘shrub’ threads.

    • Ellen Johnson

      May 19, 2020 at 10:32 am

      Hi Susan!
      How nice to hear from you! Thank you for sharing how you might use the staggered cross stitch on one of your PIPs. I hope you’ll share a picture with us in The Stitcher’s Club Facebook group. I can’t wait to see! 🙂
      Have a terrific Tuesday!

  5. Susan Larson

    May 14, 2020 at 2:44 pm

    I think this stitch could be used on a skirt using two different colors for the large and small crosses…Will try it out.

    • Ellen Johnson

      May 19, 2020 at 10:34 am

      Ooooh – that’s a very interesting idea, Susan! Thank you so much for sharing it with us. Please be sure and snap a picture to show us when you give it a whirl. 😉
      Happy stitching…

  6. Barb Terschan

    May 14, 2020 at 4:36 pm

    Oh I so love the Desert Botanical Garden! It truly is a beautiful walk through the desert! I live in Cave Cave Creek, AZ, so my husband and I spend lovely walks there! Thanks for the stitch, it is very helpful because now I find myself stitching lots of cactus!

    • Ellen Johnson

      May 19, 2020 at 10:35 am

      Hi Barb!
      Thank you so much for sharing your experience at the garden. I’d LOVE to visit it someday. All of these virtual trips are making me antsy for a road trip. 😉
      I’d love to see some of your projects if you don’t mind sharing a picture or two. 😉
      Have a terrific Tuesday!

  7. Joyce W. Klejbuk

    May 14, 2020 at 6:03 pm

    I am stitching a southwestern canvas now and may be able to incorporate the staggered cross stitch on a portion of it. Desert Botanical Gardens was a prime place to take visitors during the 11 years we lived in Scottsdale/Phoenix. It is a delightful place any time . . . okay, maybe not the summer. But three of the four seasons, it’s a fabulous place to visit. And their Christmas Las Noches de las Luminarias is a sight to behold!

    • Ellen Johnson

      May 19, 2020 at 10:41 am

      Hi Joyce!
      Thank you so much for taking the time to write. I appreciate your sharing your experiences with the garden with me. And now I think I need to make a trip to Phoenix in December! I LOVE luminarias. Our neighborhood lines the streets with them every Christmas Eve and you should see the parade of cars riding through… it’s so FUN!
      I’m delighted to read that you may be able to use this week’s stitch on your current PIP. Please share a picture with us if it’s not too much trouble!


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