collecting & pressing leaves & flowers

by | Nov 8, 2021 | crafts, Decorating, Fall, Holiday | 18 comments

Over the past few days, I have become acutely aware of autumn’s waning beauty and how it will all soon be covered in snow.  We’ve had some unusually warm weather in our neck of the woods, so I’ve done a bit of foraging on my walks.  I don’t always know what I’ll do with the bits that I gather, but I don’t worry about that too much.  I just carry a small bag and gather the things that attract my eye.  I collected pinecones to use for Christmas projects and decorations, some pods and thistles that might be interesting to draw, grasses that can be used for making brushes, acorn caps that can be used as little natural paint pots, sticks that can be brush handles and dip pens, and leaves and flowers for pressing.

collecting & pressing leaves & flowers | natural fall crafts | miss mustard seed

I also took advantage of a pretty afternoon and got the garden beds in the front ready for winter.  I trimmed the hydrangea bushes, cut back the clematis, raked out the leaves, and pulled remnants of the summer weeds.  It didn’t take too long and it feels good knowing that the garden will be ready when the snow melts.

collecting & pressing leaves & flowers | natural fall crafts | miss mustard seed

When collecting leaves and flowers for pressing, you want to look for foliage that is still supple and hydrated.  It’s best to even pull them off the tree, so they are fresh.  You also want to look for leaves and flowers that are pretty examples.  You don’t want to be pressing leaves or flowers that are bug-eaten, torn, etc.

I collected a few green oak leaves and a few leaves that were sort of burnt sienna.  Those were a little on the dry side, so we’ll see how they do.

collecting & pressing leaves & flowers | natural fall crafts | miss mustard seed

collecting & pressing leaves & flowers | natural fall crafts | miss mustard seed

collecting & pressing leaves & flowers | natural fall crafts | miss mustard seed

I cut a limelight hydrangea bloom for pressing along with the leaves, but I think it might be too dry.  It was free to try and it’ll be pretty if it works out!

collecting & pressing leaves & flowers | natural fall crafts | miss mustard seed

Violet wanted to point out that some of the grasses I collected would be excellent cat toys.

collecting & pressing leaves & flowers | natural fall crafts | miss mustard seed

I finally had to put her out of the studio because she kept reaching up a grabbing them off of the desk and would then drag them around the floor.

collecting & pressing leaves & flowers | natural fall crafts | miss mustard seed

I was using wax paper for pressing leaves and flowers, but I was informed by a botanist that wax paper will retain moisture, so she suggested I transfer them over to printer paper, coffee filters, and a few other options listed in her comment below.  I love that I’m always learning things and my knowledgeable readers are kind enough to share.

collecting & pressing leaves & flowers | natural fall crafts | miss mustard seed

So, I pressed these in wax paper in a thick book, but I’m going to slip some printer paper in based on her advice.

collecting & pressing leaves & flowers | natural fall crafts | miss mustard seed

I repeated this process with all of my flowers and leaves, pressing them in the same book.

collecting & pressing leaves & flowers | natural fall crafts | miss mustard seed

There has been one hydrangea in my front garden that was in full summer when all of the other blooms were dried and ready to be cut back for the winter.  I loved that little bloom and the wonderful reminder that we don’t all bloom at the same time.  We bloom in our own good time and it doesn’t matter what everyone around us is doing.  It doesn’t detract from our beauty.

collecting & pressing leaves & flowers | natural fall crafts | miss mustard seed

So, I clipped my late bloomer when I was cleaning the garden …

collecting & pressing leaves & flowers | natural fall crafts | miss mustard seed

…so I could press it as a reminder.  I shared this on Instagram and one of my followers replied, “Instead of bloom where you’re planted, bloom in your own good time.”  And that’s exactly right.

collecting & pressing leaves & flowers | natural fall crafts | miss mustard seed

I put the book at the bottom of my reading stack, which is always a pretty healthy stack of books that certainly provide enough weight when pressing leaves and flowers.

collecting & pressing leaves & flowers | natural fall crafts | miss mustard seed

They’ll stay in the book for about a week and then I’ll peek in on them to see how they are doing.

collecting & pressing leaves & flowers | natural fall crafts | miss mustard seed

I’m not pressing leaves and flowers every fall, but I like to do it when I think about it.  It’s just a simple way to enjoy the beauty of nature and literally gather inspiration.

Have you tried pressing leaves or flowers lately?

You can find other fall projects, recipes, and decorating ideas HERE.

18 Comments

  1. Amy

    Botanist here who’s done a lot of plant pressing over the course of the last 30+ years… for work and for fun.
    You should avoid using waxed paper because it retains moisture.
    Newspaper, blotting paper, printer paper, flattened coffee filters, flat cardboard, even plain, untreated facial tissues will work to absorb moisture and aid in drying flowers, leaves, etc.
    Paper towels may be used, but be careful of the ones that are highly textured.
    The goal is to dry the flowers, leaves, etc. as quickly as possible to prevent excessive browning and to prevent those with a high moisture content from molding.

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      Oh, good to know! I have always used waxed paper, but now I know better. Do you think my current pressed leaves and flowers will be okay or should I transfer them?

      Reply
    • Elena MacDermant

      I press flowers all spring and summer too. I use them as gifts. I’ve made bookmarks by laying the dried pressed flowers on ribbon. Then enclosed the ribbon in clear tacky labels. Also made pretty wall decor. I made a flat bouquet and glued to a piece of glass. Cover with another piece of glass. Use copper tape all around the edges and loop copper wire for a hanger. Cover the ends of wire in the tape.

      Reply
      • Sue P.

        Elena, you idea of gluing the dried pressed flowers between two pieces of glass and covering the edges with copper tape sounds absolutely beautiful! I need to try that. Thanks for sharing.

        Reply
  2. Babs

    How generous of Amy to share her knowledge. We can always learn something new!

    Reply
  3. Michelle Arrington

    Marian what you can do with the wax paper is to preserve the leaves by pressing them between the waxy side of the wax paper with a hot iron. The wax transfers over to the leaves. Make sure you use a piece of paper on the outside between the wax paper and the iron to protect yours iron from the wax. Put a piece of paper on the other side as well to protect what ever you are ironing on. Have fun!

    Reply
    • Theresa

      This is how I have always pressed leaves as well. Works wonderfully.

      Reply
  4. Karen

    Thanks for sharing this neat project, as well as the beautiful pictures. They’re really lovely pics!
    I am sO enjoying your book, and in fact just sat down to read more of it when I saw this post. I bought two extra copies for my girls for Christmas. Glad to know about the pressing mediums.

    Reply
  5. Jennifer W

    Well now I really want to press some flowers and do some projects with them! The only thing I’ve pressed recently was a four leaf clover, 😉🤗 But this was great to learn a couple of different ways of preserving nature!

    Reply
  6. Jennifer

    My 14 year old daughter took some scrap wood last year and made her own flower press. She really enjoyed making it and collecting specimens.

    Reply
  7. Rita

    Pressing flowers and leaves is a fun little activity – especially the collecting. I have pressed leaves, four leaf clovers, flowers and Queen Anne’s Lace. The pressed flowers can be used in lots of different projects. I still have some in an old dictionary.

    Reply
  8. Marilee Reyes

    My mother used to make framed pressed flower pictures and my sister and I still have a number of them. A couple are at least 60 years old. We’ve always been careful to not hang them in direct sunlight as that will fade them. My favorite one she made after a trip to Pennsylvania where she and my father grew up. They are just roadside flowers, grasses and leaves, but they are special. One year I “sneaked” some flowers and leaves from a friend’s yard to make a picture for them because they had sold the house they’d lived in for many years and would be moving. My friend was very touched and said she would always treasure it.

    Reply
  9. Vicki

    The leaves and flowers you raked out of your garden are beautiful and colorful!

    Reply
  10. Wendy

    Looking forward to seeing what you create with your pressed leaves. Most large books I own are filled with leaves in various stages of pressing.

    Reply
  11. Carolyn L Dietrich

    I hope you will post the leaves and flowers after you have pressed them and whatever you make with the other materials. Lovely post!

    Reply

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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…

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