Phriday Pheathers – Ransacked Zinnias

Adorable August Bandits have been ransacking my zinnias. Do I care…only a little, and why is that? Even without every petal the nectar-producing disk florets are alive and will be visited by hummingbirds and butterflies.

Goldfinches are the bandits. The male is bold and brash, watching me carefully, but staying in plain sight.

The female likes to forage amid the cover of the zinnia leaves.

They aren’t the only ransackers in the garden. I’m a guilty party too, stripping off petals to press between the pages of a book. They will retain their bright colors and be useful in crafts later in the year.

Each petal has a seed attached. I break these away before pressing. Aha! I’ve had a great idea.

I gather the seeds and take them to the garden. The ring of florets on the zinnia makes a perfect miniature bird feeder for the goldfinches. This post is part of August Photo A Day Challenge/Start With A – August 3rd.

Problem-Solving – Broccoli Gone to Seed


My four broccoli plants are going to seed. They never produced heads of broccoli, and were destined for the compost bin. Before I got around to pulling them the buds bloomed into interesting and colorful flowers. Hmmmm? Would it be possible to press these beautiful florets? I have tried to press lettuce flowers gone to seed in the past, and they were too delicate and thin? I am always on the lookout for yellows; would the broccoli work in book or microwave?


Oh YES! I picked several florets and pressed them both ways. The microwave and book pressing both worked perfectly. The florets greatly resemble wallflowers after being pressed, but instead of fluorescent orange, they turn a brilliant yellow. I can’t wait until the rest of my broccoli plants go to seed, in fact, I might plant a few more mid-summer just for the blooms. Go figure!!! Aren’t the unhappy surprises that turn into blessings one of the things that makes life grand? YES!

Broccoli florets, lower right, with wallflowers and pansies.
Broccoli florets, lower right, with wallflowers and pansies.

Plant & Pressed Flower – Browallia

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“Browallia earns its nicknames of amethyst flower and sapphire flower for the richness of its small blue flowers, which pop out like jewels against the bright green of its foliage. A tidy mounding plant, it’s great in containers or planted as edging in a neat row at the front of the border.” ~ Better Homes and Gardens

I planted a beautiful browallia plant in a rustic pot this year. It’s thriving in a spot that receives strong morning sunlight. I love the beautiful amethyst shade of its petals.

I’ve also experimented with pressing browallia flowers and have found the best way to process them is to use the standard method of pressing in an older book. Place the flowers between the pages, weight the book down, let it sit for about a week, then remove the flowers and store between acid free paper. When I attempted to flash-dry the petals in the microwave, which works perfectly for the Johnny-Jump-Up Violas in the photograph with them, the flowers lost all their color and dried to an unusable tan shade.

Pressed Flowers – Creating a Greeting Card

pressed flower card

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 – Time to Begin

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Although the greens in this pressed flower composition have faded into brown, it is still a good example of how well the actual flowers and leaves hold up over time. This pressed flower picture was an entry in the Philadelphia Flower Show in the early    1990’s. The Category was “City of Brotherly Love,” and the piece was supposed to portray a quilt. Considering the span of time, near twenty years, I think it has held up very well.

Most foliage and greens will age to a tan or brown over time. Many flowers, however, will retain a good bit of color. The flowers above are: delphiniums (dark blue), verbena (maroon) and lobelia (light blue.) Many other flowers will hold onto their hues. A few of these that come to mind are buttercups, purple verbena and larkspur. I’ve also had good luck with spring bulbs, although their moisture content can be a problem and they do best using a microwaved book. Many of the techniques and tips I’ve learned can be found here:

Pressed Flower Tips and Techniques

It’s time to begin pressing emerging miniature pieces of foliage and tendrils. Wildflowers will soon be blooming too. Buttercups are one of the earliest and press very well. (Pinch out the hard center first) Happy Pressing!

Pressed Flowers – Queen Anne’s Lace

Although they appear to be the ideal subject for pressing, Queen Anne’s Lace can be tricky to press.  Because they radiate in smaller blossoms from a center stem, pressing the flower as a whole means the center stem will need to stay intact. I cut as close to the last floret petal stem as possible and then place the whole flower into a hard back book. I press under extremely heavy weights to crush the remaining 1/4 inch of stem flat. This usually works, and since the Queen Anne’s Lace is relatively dry, the flower presses well. I have also cut individual florets apart and these work great in smaller compositions.

You will find that Queen Anne’s Lace is loaded with bugs. There are microscopic bugs and then there are larger shiny black beetles. Be careful of squishing or handling the black beetles in any way…they put out a powerful and repulsive scent when scared or harmed. I usually work above newspaper and gently dump these bugs back outdoors.

A great article about Queen Anne’s Lace can be found here: Queen Anne’s Lace

Pressed Flowers – Greeting Cards

 Johnny Jump Ups, moss, Vinca leaves, barberry leaf, violets & wild onion curls

I have several books of this seasons pressed flowers dried and ready to use. The batch of cards in this post is composed with spring-flowering pansies and wildflowers. I glue pressed flowers to white or eggshell cardstock with rubber cement. After they are dry I press the finished art inside a book with a weight for several hours or preferably overnight. I then check for any loose spots. If I find one or more I touch these up with rubber cement on the tip of a long floral pin, and after they are dry re-press in a weighted book. When they are completely dry I position them on a complementary piece of colorful cardstock cut into a standard greeting card size. Below each pressed flower photo I’ve listed the plant material I used.

Common celandine, johnny-jump-ups, honeysuckle leaves & wild onion curls

Butterfly: pansy petals, nandina leaf, maple bud, seaweed stems & unknown weed foliage

Wild rose leaflets, wild onion curl, wild mustard sprigs & johnny-jump-ups


Johnny-jump-ups, common celandine, honeysuckle leaves & wild onion curl

Wild onion curl, maple keys (seed pods) fern with fiddlehead, Vinca springs & unknown weed sprig

I thought this card has a definite heart shape, but my husband didn’t see it. He thought the maple keys looked more like wings. I guess it’s proof of that old cliché: “It’s all in the eyes of the beholder.” I like it though, it’s unique. I am going to try to make some dragonflies with the maple keys next. I’ll post the results soon. Here’s another maple key composition below.

Wild violet, fiddlehead fern, unknown weed foliage, common celandine bud maple keys & wild onion sprig


Pressed Flowers – Pressing With Heated Books

In the northeast we have had a very mild winter. Many of the area wildflowers are beginning to bloom. In my pile of foliage and flowers are blossoms of Birds-eye Speedwell, Vinca, and Celandine. 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 better. 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.