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Gardening: Garden art

January/February 2019 California Bountiful magazine

Pressing flowers for projects preserves seasonal bounty




Photo: © 2019 Fred Greaves

I pulled an old gardening book off the shelf a few days ago, and as I opened it, a scented geranium leaf fell out. I'd put it there ages ago to press it for a project, but forgotten about it. It still had that heavenly rose scent, which reminded me of walking along the garden path on summer evenings.

Pressing flowers and leaves is a simple project, both child's play and serious art at the same time. There's something endearing, old-fashioned and sweet about it. It's also one of the easiest things to do.

For me, it's a way to preserve the bounty of the seasons. It's fun to collect a few leaves or flower petals from a favorite destination, tuck them inside a book for protection and put them in a frame as a memento of the trip. It's also a way to remember an occasion or a milestone. I have a small glass frame filled with pressed flowers I gathered from a dear cousin's garden.

Let your imagination be your guide. Pressed flowers and leaves inside a frame is the most frequent project, but you can use pressed flowers to decorate cards, bookmarks, scrapbooks, coasters—whatever you can imagine.

Pat Rubin

Framed pressed flowers and foliage


Photo: © 2019 Fred Greaves

Materials:

  • Cut flowers and foliage to press (see tips)
  • Tissue paper or wax paper
  • Large book or flower press
  • White paper or cardboard
  • Frame, your choice of style
  • Liquid white glue or adhesive spray 
  • Small bowl and cotton swab or chopstick


Photo: © 2019 Fred Greaves

Steps:

  1. Lay clippings between two pieces of tissue paper, trimmed to size, inside the pages of the book. This protects the pages and lets you remove flowers and leaves easily. (Or, use a flower press.)
  2. Keep the book tightly closed. Pile several other books or even a few bricks on top. 
  3. After seven to 10 days, gently remove the tissue paper, flowers and leaves. 
  4. Arrange the plant material to your liking on a piece of white paper or cardboard that will fit inside your frame.
  5. Pour a few tablespoons of glue in a small bowl. Use a cotton swab or chopstick to apply a small dab of glue on the back of each flower and affix in place. (Or, use adhesive spray.) Let dry.
  6. Assemble in the frame and enjoy!


Photo: © 2019 Fred Greaves

Tips:

  • Pick flowers and leaves first thing in the morning, when they are freshest.
  • Choose leaves and flowers that are easy to press. Huge roses, dahlias or sunflowers don't press flat. When in doubt, give it a try. 
  • My favorite foliage: ferns, maples, aspen, nandina, grape leaves, cedar.
  • My favorite flowers: coreopsis, small agapanthus, violets, pansies, sunflower petals, hydrangea petals, salvias, mint.

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