Mother Earth Living

More than Rosemary for Remembrance

By DAWNA EDWARDS
October/November 2006
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Prepare sage leaves for drying by placing them in porous paper and pressing them between heavy books for about two weeks.
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Place photos and your favorite herbs between the pages of your scrapbook for botanical meaning and artful embellishments — reminders of days gone by, of fun and frolicking in the garden.

Someone once said, “God gave us memories so we might have roses in December.” Keep your memories and your roses from fading by making a combination scrapbook-herbarium. You’ll have mementos from the garden to accompany all of your photographed memories. Pressed flowers and leaves placed between the pages of your scrapbook will add to the memories evoked by photos from last week or decades ago.

Nature’s beauty and your own creativity furnish unlimited possibilities when put to the page, but a few suggestions appear on the following pages. Choose plants based upon the Victorian language of flowers, or simply for their color, shape and artful display. The scent of herbs also can trigger memories, because smell is the sense most closely linked to memory.

Herb-embellished memory books are just one way of incorporating your love for herbs with your photos. Focusing on the herbarium side of this idea (a collection of plant specimens) is a fun way to catalogue your garden’s prosperity or a particular plant, along with the people and memories that go along with it.

COLLECTING, PRESSING & DRYING BOTANICALS

Start a collection of herbs and flowers while nature is in full bloom or use previously dried botanicals from a specific event to decorate your pages. Collect and press plants throughout the seasons for the best variety to accompany your photos. Choose a mixture of leaf color, shape and scent.

Clip leaves and flowers in midmorning, after the dew has dried but before the sun begins wilting tender leaves and blossoms. Arrange leaves and flowers on a porous sheet of paper, such as blotter paper or newsprint, in a pattern similar to how you eventually plan to attach them to your scrapbook page. While you don’t have to decide everything about your design right away (believe me, it can change frequently along the way), try drying some leaves and flowers individually and some with stems in tact with varying curves so you have plenty to work with.

Once you have botanicals arranged on the paper, cover with a second sheet (double up both layers if the paper is thin) and place in a flower press or under some heavy books or boards in a dry place. Leave your drying botanicals untouched for about two weeks (you might want to check them once or twice to ensure they’re drying in the shape you desire, and that no mold is growing), and you’ll have a lovely supply of pressed herbs, perfect for embellishing the pages of your memory book.

Tip: Pressed leaves and flowers offer a touch of loveliness to memory book designs, but are specimens worth noting in their own right as well. Label your leaves and flowers with information such as the name of the plant and place or date you collected them.

PROTECT & PRESERVE YOUR MEMORIES

Acid-free, archival quality papers and materials always are the best option for preserving your plant and photographic memories. Visit your local craft or scrapbook retailer for materials. And be sure to check the label: If it doesn’t say “acid-free” or “archival,” it likely isn’t. Using paper that is not acid-free can lead to yellowing of your photos and deterioration of your memory books over the years. Plants still might change over time, but making your best effort to protect your pressed works of art will go a long way.

Completely dried, pressed botanicals should not have any residual moisture or oils, but play it safe and don’t overlap plant material on photos or allow pressed leaves to touch photos. If you like the look of overlapping photos with leaves and flowers, you can create a barrier by laminating or sealing off the sections with photos and attaching a layer of botanicals on top.

Tip: Use solid glue sticks for photos to keep them and the paper you’re gluing them to from curling. Use gel or water-based glues sparingly when adhering leaves and flowers, placing it only along the stem or in the center of flowers.

Life is all memory, except for the present moment that goes by so quick you hardly catch it going.
—Tennessee Williams

DESIGNING KEEPSAKE PAGES

Once you’ve pressed and dried your botanicals and are ready to design your page, arrange your photos, plants, background cutouts, and other decorative materials on a template page (just a sheet the same size as the scrapbook page you’re working on) and then transfer and glue items to the page in your book.

There are several types of adhesive options suitable for plants and photos. Visit your local craft store for acid-free suggestions and keep the size, shape and thickness of your plant materials in mind when purchasing. Acid-free glue sticks are great for photos, but require applying too much pressure for fragile pressed botanicals. For large leaves, you can try double-sided tape (acid-free, of course), but my favorite glue for this project is an acid-free or water-based nontoxic glue that’s repositionable and dries clear. Check the scrapbook section of your local craft store for other options. Use a small paintbrush to apply the glue along the stem and leaves and place on the page. Make sure you give the glue plenty of time to dry before closing the book or setting anything on top of the glued area.

Memory is the best of all gardens. Therein, winter and summer, the seeds of their past lie dormant, ready to spring into instant bloom at any moment the mind wishes to bring them to life.
—Hal Boyle

LOOK BUT DON’T TOUCH!

As with precious photos, the plants in your scrapbook will maintain their quality much better if you don’t touch them often. Ask those you share your scrapbook with to keep page-flipping fingers along page edges where intended. If you plan to peruse the pages of your scrapbook often, consider using acid-free, clear sheet protectors, which help protect fragile leaves from everyday wear and tear.


Dawna Edwards is a former editor of The Herb Companion who enjoys the inspiration herbs offer from her Colorado garden.

Focus on the Herbs: Create Your Own Field Guide

Hiking is one of my favorite pastimes: I’m outdoors, exercising and close to nature. But most of all, I enjoy looking at all of the different plants and wildflowers blooming in their respective seasons. Although I hike on the same trails, the many different plants and flowers ensure the walk is never the same. I used to bring my collection of handy flower identification guides to identify the plants I saw on my hikes. These often became cumbersome, but I really wanted to know what was growing around me. Although my guidebooks were great, each contained different plants and none of them was a comprehensive guide of what was growing in my neighborhood. So, I traded my backpack of books for my digital camera and started taking pictures of all the new plants I discovered. After my walk I would rush home and pour over my books to identify the pictures that I had taken.

Then I took it one step further and labeled and cataloged the plants in my own personal field guide. I decorated it and now I can share my explorations and use the guide as a teaching tool with my friends and family. My personal plant guide has grown so much, soon I will have to start a 2nd edition.

You easily can create your own field guide that includes plants you find on nature walks, and the plants and herbs from your own and friends’ gardens.

Taking the Pictures

You can use a digital or 35 mm camera. I use a digital camera because I can zoom in easily, delete and edit pictures and print different sizes.

Take several pictures of each plant, from several different angles. That way, when you get home you have many pictures from which to choose.

To properly identify the plants, make sure your pictures include the stem, leaves and flower or fruit of a plant. Taking a picture of a group of the same plant also can make identification easier later. And if a plant has a certain identifying characteristic, such as a distinct leaf shape, make sure you take a close-up of it.

Don’t forget that you also can include animals or loved ones in your fieldbook. I love to find plants that have an insect or a butterfly on them, and I encourage family and friends to be a part of the picture by gently holding a flower or pointing out a unique part of the plant.

Finally, make sure you take a pad of paper to write down where and when you took your pictures. This will be important when you are putting together your book later.

How to identify a plant?

I have a variety of books with detailed pictures so I can identify the plants I have found. No one book contains all the plants I find. I suggest going to a bookstore or library to find field guides that contain plants from your area or region. But you don’t have to spend a fortune buying books: Take your pictures with you and make notes as you identify them. Checking out or looking at a library book is free — my favorite price!

Being organized is essential when putting your book together. Include the name of the plant, the Latin name if you choose, the date and place where you found the plant, and any special event that may have coincided with the time. An example might be “Wild rose was found at a hunting lodge on the Appalachian Trail 7/20/04 during a romantic weekend getaway.” So that I don’t get disorganized, I write all the information about the picture on the back.

Supplies

I used a scrapbook kit I found at a local art supply store. A basic start-up book and basic supplies costs about $20. You can go crazy. My wife has to drag me out of the scrapbooking section whenever we go. Your budget is up to you. You can make a wonderful book for a minimal cost.

There are few types of albums to look for, such as post-bound, strap-hinge and three-ring binders. Remember that size does matter when choosing one. If you plan to take your book with you on hikes, smaller is better. Look for acid-free paper; page protectors can protect against finger marks, spills and the elements.

To make it fun, you also can buy different cutting tools, such as edgers, circle scissors, shape cutters and oval cutters, or add colored paper as a background or to add color around your photos.

You also can add other fun decorations, such as stamps and stickers. Good quality pens and markers are a necessity for labeling your book, unless you want to type labels and paste them in.

Putting it all together

Decide how you want to organize your book. Here are some suggestions:

• Alphabetical by plant
• Chronological by date you found the plant
• Seasonal (my personal system)
• Colors
• Types of plants

The list could go on and on. This is your book. You choose what you like.

Now gather all your supplies: your book, pictures and scrapbooking supplies.

Lay out each page BEFORE you paste in the photos. Once it’s glued it’s a lot harder to make corrections. If you have written your identification information on the backs of your photos, make sure you copy it on labels or elsewhere before gluing your pictures down. Now cut, paste and label your page.

Using and growing your fieldbook.

You must take care of your book. I carry mine in a large Ziplock bag when I go out with it. If it’s raining, I usually don’t take it on a hike. Since you organized your book, you will know how to look up plants as you find them. You might want to add an index in your book so that you can find plants quickly.

If you have a hard time identifying a plant, you can go to your local agricultural extension office or find a local herb or gardening group. You can even start your own club of people with whom you can exchange pictures, and help others find and identify plants in your area. Make sure if you trade that you have the plant’s name, location and time of you found your plant.
— John Peregrine

RESOURCES

Scrapbooking for Dummies by Jeanne Wines-Reed and Joan Wines, Ph.D. Wiley Publications, 2004.

A Field Guide of Medicinal Plants and Herbs: Eastern and Central America by Steven Foster and James A. Duke. Houghton Mifflin, 1990.

Quick and Easy Scrapbook Pages: 100 Scrapbook Pages You Can Make in One Hour or Less. Memory Makers, Satellite PR, 2003.


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