Pressed Flower Art (Kathy A)

I was recently given a book on the “Art of Pressed Flowers and leaves” by Jennie Ashmore, which aims to re-energise and re-imagine this very traditional craft. It might be a very good time to have a go at this fascinating hobby!

Pressed Flowers BookPeople have collected and pressed plants from the earliest times, when explorers returned from faraway places laden with Botanical specimens. During the Victorian era, pressing became a genteel art and pressed plants were used to create pictures and decorate all manner of objects.

 

Jennie’s art uses every sort of leaf as a background, to set off the more delicate pressed flowers. This one uses Sycamore leaves (at last, a use for Sycamores!) and Fennel:

Pressed Sycamore and fennel

This hobby is refreshingly low cost – Jennie uses old telephone directories for her pressing, with a brick weight on top. Inexpensive photocopying paper can be used, or blotting paper if you can get hold of it. All material is pressed for a month or two, depending on how thick the leaves are. Check after a month to see.

Jennie suggests experimenting, but says she always cuts off the woody and the fleshy parts of plants for best results. Most shiny leaves (Laurel, rhododendron) are not suitable. You should cut the fleshy middle out of Hosta leaves, otherwise they go mouldy, but they make wonderful colours.

Jennie’s leafworks are mounted on paper or thin card, and she uses Copydex or a rubber-based adhesive that can be easily removed if there is excess. Don’t use much – a dot on a matchstick works – especially when sticking delicate petals. Make a template and use a cutting knife to make backgrounds:

Pressed cut outs

Here’s what you can end up with:

Pressed flowers

I love this idea too – this is a picture of a walk, and then the pressed picture that Jennie made using material collected on the walk. What a great idea for your daily exercise walk! Have fun.

My Australian Rosemary (Anna L)

From my kitchen table I am fortunate in being able to admire a shrub growing in a pot on the patio table that is looking glorious at the moment.

Westringia rosemarinformis is an Australian native and commonly known as the Australian rosemary. I was given this plant as a cutting a few years ago and it has grown into a lovely shape. Margaret T has a large shrub growing on the sheltered, south-facing wall of her front garden, where it has thrived for about 12 years.

Anna Westringia

This is a truly fantastic shrub to grow in London’s dry, sheltered gardens and seems to be completely unknown. Its specialness derives from the fact it flowers during the winter months and will keep on flowering for months afterwards. I imagine Margaret purchased her Westringia from a rare plant fair or specialist nursery years ago.

Westringia is a genus of 25 species, found all over Australia and comprised of rounded to erect specimens from dry coastal, heathland or dry forest areas, which make them ideal to grow as rounded shrubs or as hedging in Australian gardens.

In the UK they are regarded more as conservatory plants, but if they are given a hot, sheltered position, they will thrive happily for many, many years. They tend to like a fertile, well drained soil, with sharp sand and compost added to the mix, although I imagine they grow in poor soil in Australia.

westringa close up

The small, lavender-coloured flowers are not scented but I think they have an orchid-like appearance, with contrasting orange stamens. They are exceedingly beautiful to look at in close-up.

Margaret would be happy to supply cuttings to those interested in growing this shrub. (contact cabahshortisoc@gmail.com)