My Winter Gardening Project (pics)

WendyB(5A/MA)December 6, 2009

I decided to tackle a project I've always wanted to try and making holiday gifts with it is a great bonus. I really love them, but is that because I am a gardener? Will normal people enjoy them as much as I do? (look who I'm asking???!?! LOL)

Most of the frames I had as excess after I went digital for house family photos. Some I painted black to update the look. Some I got at Christmas Tree Shop that were surprisingly very nice and very cheap.

After I pick out several for gifts, I can't wait to make a collage of the leftovers for over my sofa. The pictures that are there now, all of a sudden look awful.

I didn't start collecting and pressing the foliage until September. But the other day (pre-snowfall) I was able to go around the garden and still pick out some more from evergreens and heucheras.

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cloud_9(z5 CT)

Those look great! What lucky gift recipients! I want to try this now.
: D

    Bookmark   December 6, 2009 at 12:51PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

I think so-called "normal" people will be very happy with your gifts - they're art work, not plants. I don't see a speck of dirt, or a bug, on any of them! Nice job.


    Bookmark   December 6, 2009 at 2:41PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

They do look great! I wasn't sure at first if they were the real thing or drawings/paintings, they look so good.


    Bookmark   December 6, 2009 at 3:01PM
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Hi Wendy,
What a great job you did on these!! Did you do anything to protect them from fading? Most of these leaves will hold their color, but a few are notorious for fading. I do a lot of pressed flower work and love seeing what other do!

    Bookmark   December 6, 2009 at 4:36PM
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Thanks all. I can't tell anyone else about this, even my BFF, because they will all be receiving one! But I needed to share.

As far as fading, I looked around for some UV protectorant spray but didn't find any. To cover that problem, I created a label/sticker on the back with a little artwork and contact info.

For best results do not hang in sunny or humid locations. Even in ideal locations, plant material may fade over time or slip from its position. If so, please return the frame for a fresh refill.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2009 at 4:48PM
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cloud_9(z5 CT)

Good idea for the label Wendy!

jpressed - can you share with us some of the common faders? Can you share any tips?

I'm notorious for pressing flowers in books and then forgetting they are in there. :-/


    Bookmark   December 6, 2009 at 7:33PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

"...I'm notorious for pressing flowers in books and then forgetting they are in there..."

Nice to know I'm not the only one...


    Bookmark   December 6, 2009 at 11:01PM
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cloud_9(z5 CT)

Dee - Space-ery loves company?

    Bookmark   December 7, 2009 at 9:22AM
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terrene(5b MA)

Wendy those are very cool. They would look beautiful on the wall. I know nothing about pressing flowers or leaves, but I wonder if it would be possible to press a combination of leaves, stems, and flowers, and create a stylized 2-dimensional bouquet. How about adding a silhouette of a hummingbird or butterfly?

That looks like a great winter hobby and I'd love to try it - some year.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2009 at 10:27AM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

But Deb, isn't it a wonderful little suprise when you open a book and find one, lol?!

Forgetfulness - the gift that keeps on giving!


    Bookmark   December 7, 2009 at 11:22AM
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treeskate(6a Hartford CT)

I am truly impressed!!!! Must remember this for next year and save various leaves during the growing season. Is there any thoughts you can share about the pressing process - type of book/paper, how long to keep out of light (inside book....)??

Thanks for sharing and I am sure the recipiants with truly love them! A gift from the heart for sure.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2009 at 4:37PM
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Treeskate, I use a microwave terra cotta press that I bought several years ago.
Lee Valley microwave press
Its trial and error to time the pressing right -- generally 30-60 seconds will do it. Its easy to overdo it. Sometimes I will do 15 seconds at a time and check.

Then I store them in flat plastic storage containers with silica gel packs. (Start saving them when you see them with many products). I keep it all in a closet until ready to tackle the project.

I'm so glad you asked about the pressing. I am excited to see that Lee Valley sells the replacement pads for the press. I need some and I couldn't find them anywhere. I didn't even know what they were made of til I just went to that link to find the press. I've been using felt (when I burnt my original pads this year) but it isn't quite as good.

There is a plastic version of a microwave press too.

I'm sure the old-fashioned book method is just as good, but I only used it for a few ferns that were too big for the microwave press. I also used some leftover 13" square tiles (with papertowels).

Terrene, your bouquet sounds lovely but now you're getting into an area that requires skill and creativity!!! The solo foliage is soooo much easier. I think just foliage is also a more contemporary aesthetic. I would like the bouquet, but I don't think my recipients would so much. When I first got the press and started collecting flowers for it, I found them much harder to work with. Many flowers have to be "re-built" petal by petal if they have thick centers. Flowers also strained my limited creativity. Simple foliage is a no-brainer. Right up my alley!

Also as far as UV protection, I checked the glue I use and it does say it is UV resistant. Unfortunately, I did not use it as a top coat over the foliage. I think I will try an experiment with coated and non-coated and put them in a sunny room and see what happens.

There is also such a thing as UV resistant glass, but I didn't pursue that.

ALso, when gluing the foliage on card stock, they don't always lay flat when glued, depending on the leaf substance. I put a piece of waxed paper over them and then put them in a really big book (American Hort Society Encyclopedia of Gardening) for at least a couple of hours. Then they are secure for further handling and framing.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2009 at 5:22PM
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cloud_9(z5 CT)

Dee - I like your attitude. You can sit by me when we are old and senile and we will giggle our butts off over how advantageous it is! ;-)

    Bookmark   December 7, 2009 at 6:26PM
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Thyme2dig NH Zone 5

Wendy, what a beautiful job. Thanks so much for sharing all the "how to" information.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2009 at 6:49PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Wendy, you must be so excited to give these as gifts this year. They are all gorgeous and fascinating! I believe anyone in my family would love these as gifts, even the non gardeners. You have inspired me to try it. Too bad there are no leaves left for this year. [g] I am putting that microwave press on my Christmas list. :-) I didn't realize that the colors remain so vivid with doing it in a microwave.

I also love the different colors of the frames and the variety of mounting styles. You did a really great job and I think you have a lot of creativity in your garden and it shows with these too. Thanks for sharing your 'tips' on how you do it!

    Bookmark   December 8, 2009 at 8:47AM
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pm, You may be able to still find leaves. Last week I picked yak rhododendrun leaves, heuchera, pieris and Artemisia Powis Castle, variegated jacobs ladder. (the latter I hadn't cut down yet because it was holding up really really well). they all made the cut. I could have found more if needed. Boxwood, kalmia, ilex glabra. You have to scout well to find 100% non-blemished. You could "book" them in lieu of microwave press for now.

Also, I would recommend the large terra cotta press if possible, rather than the regular. I got the regular and it is small. I have to do a lot of batches. It gets hot after a few and I have to let it rest and cool.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2009 at 9:02AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Wendy...thanks you filled in the blanks for me. I didn't want to ask too many questions but you managed to answer all those I was thinking. lol I have not cut anything down in the garden, so maybe I will find something out there. I would not have thought to try evergreen leaves, but why not. I was also debating the small vs large press. Will go for the large one, since it will be a Christmas gift. Family will be happy to have a really good idea for a gift for me. I'm excited. I hope you will have enough for yourself to keep. They're beautiful! :-)

    Bookmark   December 8, 2009 at 12:29PM
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Really nice! Thanks for sharing this, Wendy. Your recipients will love these.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2009 at 8:25PM
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greenbug(zone 6_CT)

Hi guys,

This year I became fascinated by pressed art as well. Here is a project I completed during summer and was custom made for a wall in my living room that had been a challenge to decorate.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2009 at 7:24PM
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greenbug(zone 6_CT)

Still new to posting a pic....this is a little closer up than the previous image.

Usually, what I try to do is pick a color scheme and choose the background accordingly. As some of you master gardeners will quickly notice, the leaves and the flowers are not from the same plant, but I don't let that fact inhibit my artwork, if it looks good to my eye, I use the combination.

It was a bit of a struggle to make the different frames combination unify... the frames lay on the floor of my sunroom and I would look at it from different angles, was like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. But still, all in all, it was a rewarding experience.:-)

Anna (greenbug)

    Bookmark   December 13, 2009 at 7:40PM
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Immaculate work!

P.S. "...I'm notorious for pressing flowers in books and then forgetting they are in there..."

I'm notorious for pressing green bucks in books and then forgetting where I hid them...
Now I know why my wife likes to read books after me :-)
Should of figure it out long time ago and read more gardening books. She wouldn't touch them with a 7' pole :-)

    Bookmark   December 14, 2009 at 10:42PM
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