Phlowers – Flower of the Day/Fan Flower

I love Fan Flowers (Scaevola aemula) for many reasons. The fan-shaped bloom comes to mind first. The ease in growing them and the way the blossoms cascade over the edge of a hanging basket is also a plus.

They combine well in their pot with yellow and black pansies, purple heliotrope and diamond frost euphorbia.

My plants are often visited by goldfinches. They pluck the ripening seeds from the lower branches of the plant, giving me many moments to admire their beauty as they feed. Fan flowers are one of many plants that attract and shelter backyard birds.

I have a pinkish fan flower, but it is not as vibrant as the purple. I like having more choices though, and this color combines nicely with other shades of pink and purple.

Fan flowers are one of my favorites for flower pressing. If picked just after they unfurl they retain their color perfectly. They combine well with other pressed flowers.

This post is part of Skywatch Friday and Cee’s Flower of the Day.

Pressed Flowers – Blessings Amid Failure

I’m having an off year for vegetable gardening, well, perhaps I should qualify that…my early plantings, lettuce and other cold weather crops, have utterly failed this year. I didn’t use my tried and true method for starting lettuce by winter sowing in milk cartons. By far though, the biggest problem, was our cold and wet Spring weather. It’s June now, getting warm, and the lettuce is only three inches tall, while most of the other cold weather plants have gone to seed.

I had a bit of luck with radishes sown in a container, but they never grew large, and are rather rock-like when I try to cut them for salads. They are also going to seed.

I found a blessing amid the failure of my crops, the blossoms from the gone-to-seed veggies are terrific pressed flowers. The radish blossoms are especially intriguing. They are softly pastel and I can’t wait to see if they retain their delicate colors through the pressing process. So my failure in cold weather vegetable gardening has been a boost to my flower pressing. I could plant another crop of hot weather plants now, but I’m going to wait and see how many delicate blossoms for pressing these plants will yield. If they keep their beautiful colors I might just plant more radish seeds for the flowers alone.

Planting & Phlowers – Wildflower Packets

I planted three small garden patches with an inexpensive wildflower packet this year. I think I paid about 20 cents each for a handful of packets. They grew with hardy exuberance, filling the patches with foliage. When the temperatures warmed up they began to bloom in a glorious array of variety and colors.

The nectar and pollen draw all types of pollinators, both large and small, and today when taking photographs I saw a few butterflies hovering over the patches.

The foliage can look a little weedy and that’s okay because, in reality, many of these wildflowers are considered weeds.

I love the Black-Eyed Susans that grew from the packets. The close-up details fill me with awe over what the good Lord has created in miniature. This photo is part of Skywatch Friday. The burst of petals is reminiscent of the fireworks on Wednesday night.

Sir Water Scott perfectly describes the way my wildflower garden grows and how I want to live my life. I like orderly garden beds that bloom with decorum at the right time and in the right place, but I prefer the glorious action and surprises in a patch of mixed wildflowers.

If you press flowers, you will find that many of these wildflowers make terrific candidates for pressing, as does their sparse foliage.

Sketching, painting and other forms of art using wildflowers becomes easier by isolating single varieties with a large sheet of posterboard.

It’s not too late to plant wildflowers. I will be adding fresh seeds to my gardens for a few weeks yet in hopes of enjoying wildflowers throughout the entire summer and fall.

Quick Tip & Pressed Flowers – Pink Leaves or a Baggie, Camera & Notepad with Pencil

I press flowers throughout the year and often create miniature gardens on cardstock to use in the place of overpriced greeting cards. Today, as I was walking, I noticed the Wild Grape leaves were beginning to emerge. The samples in the photo range in size from a quarter to about a dime. They are thick, but press well, and keep their beautiful Spring colors.

I often use the underside of the leaves for my compositions. The pink tints of Spring are deeper on the back, and I love the added texture of the veining.

I found these gems as I took a morning walk around the block today. I wish I had thought ahead and had a small baggie in my pocket. I also would have enjoyed taking a photograph of the tenacious vines in their native setting, and of course, a pencil and notepad would have been great to jot down my thoughts at the moment. I need to keep these things at the ready in the desk near the front door, easy to grab when on the run or starting a walk.

If you press flowers, or want to try, this time of the year is a perfect starting point. Trees are unfurling leaves, maple keys, and other bud-like growth that won’t be found again for a year. Happy Pressing! For more information on pressed flowers click on the title in the category cloud in the right sidebar of this blog.

Pressed Flowers – Blue Monday

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Pressed Blue Hydrangeas – The secret to capturing these lovely shades of watercolor-like blues and greens is letting the flowers begin to age before you pick them for pressing. When the petals are streaked with many shades of blue and green, and have a papery feel, they are ready to press. Blossoms of hydrangea pressed too soon will quickly brown. I don’t use microwave heat to press hydrangeas, pressing between the pages of older books works best. These beautiful hydrangeas are a little preview of Spring in the midst of Winter.

Pages – Surprises

I love to search through antique shops, flea markets, and boxes of books at yard sales. I often find treasured volumes I’ve read in the past and feel as if I’ve reconnected with old friends.

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I came upon a pleasant surprise when I opened “The Book of Trees” by Alfred C. Hotte, published in 1932. Within the pages lay a letter and pressed leaves. I wonder as I study the letter, the brittle leaves, who placed them inside and why.

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Underlining and personal notes written on book pages never fail to make me wonder why the readers were moved enough to comment or underline. It’s funny, I’ve even come upon my own written comments in book margins, long forgotten, but often still applicable to my life now. A week or two ago, I found pressed plants in a book gathering dust on a shelf, several four leaf clovers found in a patch of grass on a long ago day. I didn’t remove them, instead I shut the cover and laid it away once more, to rediscover “good luck’ another day.

Phavorites – November Reruns

This is my fifth year creating content for “Minding My P’s with Q.” Some good ideas and posts from past years are buried deep in the archives. I’ve unearthed a few November “phavorites” from 2011 to the present to share once again.

Sweet Potato Vine

Growing a Sweet Potato Vine is easy and a fun way to continue gardening indoors.

the stowaway

When you bring in your houseplants from the porch and yard be sure to check for Stowaways.

pumpkin cookies

Pumpkin Cookies, nutritious and delicious, are a perfect November snack.

pressed flower house

You can use Pressed Autumn Leaves to create structures within pressed flower cards.

milk carton cloche

A Milk Carton Cloche is an easy way to extend your growing season.

Amaryllis

Amaryllis are available now as bulbs or potted plants for Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday cheer.

Paper Snowflakes on my windows are one of my favorite Christmas decorations. To have enough by December 1st, I will begin cutting at least five every day.

Last, but certainly not least, enjoy the beautiful “A Song of Thanksgiving” by U2.

Pressed Flowers – Creating a Greeting Card

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In the past I sold pressed flower greeting cards by the dozens at craft shows and even through a local hardware store. I don’t pursue this line of making a bit of money any longer, but I still like to create an occasional card for friends or family.

I have posted many tips on how to press flowers in the blog. If you use the search box in the right hand sidebar, and search for “pressed flowers,” you will find quite a bit of useful information.

I create my cards without using glue by creating a design on regular paper, and then dropping the flowers onto clear laminate backwards and right side down. I’ve included a quick video of one of my cards start to finish in 8x normal speed. You will even see me deal with a dilemma at the end of my creating. It’s a good idea to place the finished card in a book with a weight on top for a few hours before using it. Any questions…feel free to ask me in the comment section of this post. Thanks for stopping by and taking a look.

Pressed Flowers – April 2015 Part I

I’m re-blogging what I’ve found to be the best way to process most of the plant material I use for pressed flower artwork. My favorite way to use pressed flowers is in the creation of greeting cards. If you’ve attempted to buy a finely crafted greeting card lately, I’m sure you’ve walked away from the rack in a state of shock…most of these cards are outrageously overpriced. Dollar store greeting cards fill in the void nicely, but there are special events when an inexpensive greeting card isn’t a good choice. A handmade pressed flower card is often the perfect alternative. Throughout the next month or two, I’ll be posting a few of my favorite pressed flower greeting card tips.

It’s time to begin restocking my pressed flower supply. I love using wildflowers, they are often small and airy, perfect for pressed flower compositions. One caution though when using wildflowers, be sure that you are not using a plant that is protected as threatened and endangered in your state. To see a listing of your State’s Protected Wildflowers check out this site: US Government list of Threatened and Endangered Plants.

I have found that the best way to retain the colors of most flowers and foliage is to flash press them in a microwave. I don’t use the expensive microwave presses; I have found the best way is to use an old book. The book must have very porous paper, it must not have gold or silver leafing on the spine or page edges, and a smaller book works best. Most of the books I use are from the 1930’s and 1940’s. You can find books of this age at yard sales and thrift stores. They are usually very inexpensive.

1. Separate your flowers into thinner petaled flowers and foliage, and thicker varieties.

3. Lay the blossoms and foliage on the page. These vincas have a thick stem that will not press well behind the open faced blooms. After I lay them out on the page I cut off that stem. For the side pressed blossoms, I leave the stem intact. I also include several buds of the flower.

4. Shut the book and rubber band the edges. For thin varieties of flowers and foliage I microwave between 15 and 30 seconds. This provides the heat that speeds up the drying process. The book should not be hot, only gently warm to the touch. For thicker varieties of flowers and foliage I heat for 30 – 60 seconds. As with anything microwave temperatures vary, you will have to experiment to see what works best for you. After pressing, clean out any residue left behind in your microwave by heating a cup of water with lemon or citrus peel, and then wiping away the moisture from the sides.

5. Don’t open the book, leave the rubber bands in place and put your book under a heavy weight.

6. Your flowers should be dried and ready to use within 3 – 7 days. To remove them from the pages of the book, gently slide a soft paint brush beneath the edges.

I use large books to store my pressed flowers. I place them on acid free paper and label the sides, leaving the edges hanging over the book pages about 1/2 inch. This helps me find exactly the type of flower I want when I am composing a picture.

The flowers and foliage are ready to use. In coming days and weeks I’ll give more tips on how I compose, glue and use my pressed flower projects.

Prayer & Pressed Flowers – The Prayer Flag Project

The Prayer Flag Project

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:16

I recently participated in “The Prayer Flag Project” by creating a prayer flag.

“In June of 2011, Vivika Hansen DeNegre started The Prayer Flag Project. She invited people from around the world to to join her in making Prayer Flags. Each flag is created in the artists own style, then hung outside for a while, its words and sentiment dissolving into the wind and being spread to all whom the wind touches. They are a living, breathing, kinetic journal of our hopes, dreams and concerns. The Prayer Flag Project… Join us if you’d like.”

The theme: Create a flag that incorporates “Images of leaping humans (think leap of faith), and of course maps and lettering.” My flag, and the flags of others, can be viewed by clicking on the button at the top of this post.

My initial flag was created with pressed flowers on Mulberry paper. It turned out lovely, but I realized it was too fragile to send through the mail, and most likely would not hold up being sewn to binding along the top. Here’s a peek at the finished flag.

The Dragonfly: Pressed Flower Artwork, 5 x 7, Blue Hydrangeas, Queen Anne's Lace, Seaweed, Lichen, Mulberry Leaves
The Dragonfly, pressed flower artwork, 5 x 7, Blue Hydrangeas, Queen Anne’s Lace, Seaweed, Lichen, Mulberry Leaves

Pressed Flower Tip: Hydrangeas are a good pressed flower candidate. The hard round center must be removed before pressing. Press without heat in between non-shiny pages.Lichens can be pressed flat in books. Seaweed can be dried and pressed between pages. Wildflower and tree foliage presses beautifully.

Product & Pressed Flowers

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I found a new set of pearlescent watercolors this weekend. They are made by Yasutomo and available in craft stores and online. The set was less than ten dollars, and with the added benefit of a 40% off coupon, quite a bargain. I use Winsor & Newton watercolors, but am enchanted by the idea of adding a little touch of shimmer to a few of my more creative watercolor attempts.

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The first thing I did was number the paints and make a chart to see how the watercolors reacted on paper. They are very pearly and quite sheer. The permanent marker is easily seen through all the colors.

I also experimented with a scrap of torn painting. The pearlescent pink added shimmer to the petals, but still let the detail come through.

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Another plus is the watercolors perk up the faded colors of old pressed flowers. These johnny-jump-ups were very drab, but the pearlescent paint added a bit of gleam and color. I can’t wait to experiment with this effect and will probably create a few greeting cards to have on hand.

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If you like to paint give these lovely watercolors a try.

PostScript: I found these to be very hard in texture. Before using, add a bit of water to each pan. Allow the water to sit and loosen up the paint for a few minutes before you begin to paint.

Project & Pressed Flowers – Valentine Tag Tree

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Ask most people what comes to mind when they hear the word, “February,” and they will answer, “Valentine’s Day, Love and Flowers.” I’ve combined these three themes into one, and created a Valentine Tag Tree. This project was very economical. The only item I purchased was the pack of tags. I had pressed flowers on hand, and the twigs were free, gathered during a Winter walk.

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I created the hearts out of maple keys. A few years ago I collected hundreds, small and large, in colors of green, beige, pink and red. I cut away the seed and pressed them within the pages of books. I love finding new ways to use the keys.

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I chose Winsor & Newton’s Iridescent Medium to add a bit of sparkle to the keys.

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The medium didn’t cover evenly, but I liked the rivulets and blots it created…they added more interest and sassiness.

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The maple keys were easily trimmed into half a heart shape, and glued together, creating beautiful and unique Valentine hearts.

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I glued on a few pressed flowers. Hydrangeas, while not as vivid as the day they were picked and pressed, still added a hint of blue or a green hue.

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I used a fine-tipped permanent marker in brown and added words of love and a few swirls on each tag.

Valentine Sampler

I enjoyed creating a Valentine Sampler with the finished tags. I was tempted to glue these down and frame them, but decided to stick with my original idea…a Valentine Tag Tree.

The base was easily constructed, a piece of floral foam, a bit of hot glue, and a ceramic urn. Spanish moss hid the mechanics of the container. A substitution for floral foam would be a grid of tape across the top of the container. Aluminum foil could also be used to wedge the twigs securely in place.

If you don’t have pressed flowers you can use bits and pieces of magazines, seashells, twigs, moss, heart shapes…there are so many choices for these tags. Most of all enjoy yourself.

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Pressed Flowers – Autumn Leaves

I’ve combined a few posts from past years on how I use pressed Autumn leaves.

Blog Leaves

It’s not too late to press a few Autumn leaves for crafts and Thanksgiving table scatter. They look lovely hung from mantels or chandeliers. They make great place cards. Write the names of your guests on them with metallic felt-tipped markers. Encase within pieces of glass, seal edges with copper tape or decorative duct tape and use as trivets for your holiday table.

I use quite a few Autumn leaves in my pressed flower compositions. They are great for cutting into different shapes. I create many things with the pressed leaves: birdhouses, wagons, baskets, flowerpots and even small houses.

One problem that arises when cutting the leaves is their brittle nature when dried and pressed. To cut without treating them in some way usually results in shattered pieces or raggedy edges. I’ve found a few fixes for combating this problem by stabilizing the leaves with an added layer.

Fix #1 – Mod Podge the back side of the leaves

Brush the Mod Podge on the back of the leaves with a soft brush. Let it dry completely. While it dries create a pattern out of cardboard for the shape you want to use. In my case it was a tiny house greeting card I call “Home Sweet Home.”

When the Mod-Podge is completely dry, I use a Sharpie marker to trace the house pattern onto the mod-podged side of the leaves. Use a marker that is as close to the color of the leaf as possible or it might show through to the front side. Make sure you remember that when you cut out the traced pattern it will reverse itself. For instance, in the finished card, if I use side one of my pattern to trace, on the finished house the door will be on the left of the house, not on the right.

To finish this card I choose small pieces of foliage and very tiny flower bunches to create the trees. I set these aside at the ready.

For everyone who wondered why I press seaweed….here is the answer: Pressed seaweed is perfect to make small trees. When dried and pressed the thick fronds of this type of seaweed shrink to delicate branches.

Small ferns, leaves and pieces of Queen Anne’s lace foliage, all look like small trees.

Small florets of flowers look like Crape Myrtle trees in bloom.

Here are a few of the finished cards. Four seasons of pressed flower houses.

SPRING

For those who wondered why in the world I would press pieces of an abandoned hornet’s nest, the answer is above: hornet’s nest paper, pressed and mod-podged, is easy to cut into shapes for unique additions to my pressed flower creations.

SUMMER

AUTUMN

WINTER

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Another way to cut Autumn leaves is to use Wonder Under. Wonder Under is a fusible web made by Pellon. Wonder Under can be purchased in any fabric store. Craft and hobby outlets also carry fusible web, but you usually have to buy a full package, a waste of money if you need only a quarter yard or less.

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Create a pattern. I am working with a bird house shape.

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Trace pattern onto Wonder Under and fuse with an iron onto the back of the leaf or bark. Remember, whatever pattern you choose will reverse itself in direction when fused to the back.

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Another technique is to fuse the Wonder Under directly to the back of the leaf, and then after tracing the pattern, cut out the shape you desire from the leaf.

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I am sometimes tempted to remove the Wonder Under backing and fuse the cut leaves to the card stock with an iron. This is not a good idea for two reasons, the removal of the backing often destroys the leaf, and the heat of the iron will usually warp the card stock to some degree. It’s a better idea to leave the Wonder Under in place permanently and glue the leaf to the card with the fusible web intact.

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It’s fun to create different shapes for your pressed flower work using the beauty of Autumn leaves and the thin bark of a birch tree. Have fun.

Prose and Pressed Flowers – A Passion For Flowers by Penny Black

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In 1992 a classic floral arranging book was published. It has always been one of my favorites on the subject of pressed & dried flowers. Written by Penny Black, this terrific how-to book is a timeless account of how to use flowers for your home and giving to others.

The book is filled with gorgeous pictures, perfect directions and recipes. I also found a list of additional books authored by Penny Black. The list can be found on Goodreads: Books by Penny Black

A Passion for Flowers can be ordered through Amazon: A Passion For Flowers by Penny Black

Pressed Flowers – Fairy Dress

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In January I walked the woods and searched my yard for anything leafy or green to press. I found an assortment of items, you can read the post about my search and what I found here: January Pressings

This week I used my pressings to create a sweet fairy dress. The whimsical side of my nature was quite pleased with the result. The picture measures 5 x 7, and is bordered with words cut from a children’s paperback. I used an old book that was yellowed  with age. This enabled the words to blend into the mulberry paper and create an aged look.

material

The materials I used to create my fairy dress were a piece of 5 x 7 beige mulberry paper and an instant grab glue.

floral pin tool

Two additional tools I use for pressed flower work are a paintbrush, good for lifting fragile flowers, and a pearl floral pin, perfect for running a small amount of glue beneath an errant edge.

I began my designing by cutting a bodice top and waist into an ash leaf. Remembering that most fairy dresses have the look of the ethereal about them, I cut a slit up the front of the skirt in order to take away the impression of heaviness and formality.

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I added a decorative edge of trimmed lamium leaves, a sprig of moss, and the lace-like petals of a spent sage flower.

belt and peplum

To give the dress an airy look I created a peplum ruffle out of moss sprigs and a belt out of a cut ivy leaf.

hat

I crafted a hat out of the top of the ash leaf, adding a jaunty sprig of moss and flower petals.

shoes

I adore the shoes. They are cobbled out of one ivy leaf and sport some lacy sage flower petals.

purse

The handbag is composed of an ivy leaf and sage petals. A moss sprig handle adds a touch of greenery. I used the backside of the ivy for the top of the bag, and the front of the same leaf, pointed edge cut away, for the bottom.

So much fun…yesterday I went out to collect for February’s fairy dress, alas, there is very little out there. The snow and frigid temperatures of winter haven’t left much for pressing. I plan to go out again soon and make a more thorough search…updates will follow.

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Pressed Flowers – First Flowers of 2014/Crocus

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Oh Happy Day! Crocus are blooming in my side garden. How exciting to have something to press with a little bit of color to it.

I press crocus in two ways, open and cup-shaped. To press a crocus in an open position gently press the petals flat to reveal the pollen stems. I pressed these flowers between the pages of acid-free paper in a weighted down book.

Pressed Flowers – January Pressings/Part One

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Last week I had a few spare hours and the perfect winter day to take a long walk. The sun warmed me, but the wind behaved like a naughty boy, throwing the tasseled ends of my scarf into my face, tangling strands of my hair around the frames of my sunglasses. No matter though, a sense of the glorious filled my spirit. God’s blue sky, the outdoors, paths to walk, a “pressing” mission to fulfill; even in the midst of January’s desolation I knew I would find something to put between the pages of my pressed flower books

I jumped a ditch of standing water, only to realize as I leapt over, the breadth was wider than my stride. My right foot mired in the muck, covering my favorite mesh slip-ons with mud. I shrugged away aggravation as the cold water squished into my sock with each step.

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Slung on my shoulder lay an old crocheted bag for my finds. Inside I had added several plastic bags for items small enough to fall through the mesh. A pair of scissors, always a good idea in brambly woods, was another good addition.

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A coppery notched leaf was the first good find.

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Nearby I spotted a patch of wild onions. They gleamed bright green and lush against the backdrop of muted browns and beiges.

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I picked out a few bits of sheet moss growing amid the grass.

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Jackpot! Several fallen branches adorned with delicate green lichen lay in my path. Usually the lichen is impossible to remove without damaging the ruffles, but the recently melted snow kept the lichen moist enough to easily peel away from the bark. The gathering of these frilly, ribbon-like lichens filled me with immense satisfaction.

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My walk led me back home where I picked a few pieces of ivy from the trunk of a tree. Winter painted the immature leaves bronze with chartreuse veining. I hope this gorgeous color combination holds true as the leaves dry in the book-press.

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Laid out before me, the gleanings from the wintry forest and meadows filled me with pleasure. As always, I was surprised by how much I had in my bag. I realized I had gathered at least five pages of flower pressing material.

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The winter has been a damp one. I made sure every piece of foliage was placed on the paper with plenty of space around it. When I finished arranging the pieces I covered the pressings with another piece of computer paper and placed all the layers between the pages of a large, heavy book.

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Pressing Tip: Moss roots should be cut away before pressing. Separate each strand to press. Most thick mosses will not press well. Those with sprigs are the only type that will work.

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Pressing Tip: When you press thin stems, such as onions or grass, always try to keep a natural curve along their length. There are not many straight lines in nature, curves and twists will add interest to your pressed flower compositions.

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Pressed Flowers – Creating a Flower Farm

If you are a pressed flower lover, and garden with posies intended to become subjects for your flower presses, consider creating a flower farm in an out of the way spot in your yard. A repeat blog post of a good idea.

I love my gardens, and I love pressing flowers, within that statement lies my dilemma. If I pick from my gardens too extensively, I lose the appeal of their mass of colors. I’ve learned over the years to grow the flowers I press in separate containers in an out-of-the-way place. When I grow my pressed flowers this way I can lift the containers onto my potting bench for easy picking, and my gardens don’t begin to look like lush foliage without bloom. The flowers planted in containers also gather less soil on their petals in rainstorms or heavy winds. I buy most of my containers at the dollar store and fill them with inexpensive soil. They do great and having them all in one area saves time too.

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Plantings and Pressed Flowers – Growing Snow Peas

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This beautiful blossom is not a Sweet Pea blooming in Springtime, it is instead the bloom of a Snow Pea blooming in my Square Foot Garden in mid-November. I planted the peas near the end of August and they are still producing pea pods for me. I love the fact that anything at all is still growing in the rapidly falling temperatures. The flower of the Snow Pea is quite attractive, a beautiful lavender and deep purple combination.

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What a bonus that the flower develops quickly into a tender, delicious peapod. They are such a welcome addition to my salad greens.

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Another bonus: the twirling fronds the snow pea uses for climbing are a perfect foil for my pressed flower compositions. They press within three days inside the pages of a book. They add the perfect delicate touch to a Victorian Pressed Flower Card.

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