San Diego Natural History Museum--Your Nature ConnectionSDNHM Field Guide

How to Make a Plant Collection

Before You Start
Mounting the Specimen
Keeping Specimens
Tips for Art Projects

Tips for Art Projects

The same techniques we use in the museum can be used for projects like decorated notecards and framed arrangements of flowers and leaves. Such projects typically use separate small flowers and leaves, which are easier to press and dry than bulky scientific specimens are. They may be successfully dried between the pages of an old phone book. Press them inside a fold of paper as described earlier, so that you have a way to handle the flowers after they are dry. You can lay dozens of small flowers or leaves on a page. Press them down with a finger to make them lie flat before you close the book on them (they're going to be squashed anyway, remember).

Do not go to wild places and collect native flowers for these purposes. There are many suitable plants you can use without damaging the environment: look at garden weeds, garden flowers and trees, and even the grocery store! Carrot tops have lovely delicate foliage. Flower clusters, like those of bottlebrushes and marigolds, can be separated into their individual tiny flowers. Many weeds, like wild radishes and grasses in lawns, have very pretty flowers. Look around you and think small! You'll find plenty of material to use.

Judy Gibson, Curatorial Assistant, Botany Department

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