Herb on the Mind

NO, not that kind!

Scientists and physicians have been pressing and preserving plants since the middle ages.  They used the collections in order to document the benefits and dosage of the specimens they kept- a primitive pharmacy.

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The earliest collections in the United States are believed to be from the mid 1700′s and are known as herbaria (pl.).  Imagine John Muir, roaming Yosemite almost 200 years later, documenting specimens that are still curated  and displayed today. Pretty darn cool.

You probably already know old things are new again in design and decor: mason jars, reclaimed wood furniture, industrial items, you name it. So why not herbaria? Well, if you are on Houzz or Pinterest, you know they are “in” indeed!  Pop one of those babies in a frame and you got yourself some art!  While preserving a rare plant is appealing, there is something poetic about framing a common wildflower or weed and appreciating it all on its own.  It’s one thing to witness a field of ragweed through your itchy, watery eyes but taking a closer look at one stem, safely tucked behind glass can help you appreciate its true beauty.

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Scoping out specimens with my trusty assistant

“What is a weed, but a plant whose virtue is yet to be discovered?” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

A good friend of mine over at the Kitchen Creative and her husband recently purchased a new home that they are completely rehabbing. It can be a slow painstaking process- not to mention daunting! So when her birthday came around I thought I would surprise her with her own herbarium collection to help keep the final product, the home of their dreams, in mind.  I saw a Pin on one of her boards that told me she may like such a thing and we share a similar design aesthetic. Hopefully I did a good job.

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Prepping plants for pressing

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I suggest NOT using an expensive Thomas Keller Cookbook! (Bouchon). Press for at least 24 hour

 

I tried to arrange the plants in a way that was pleasing to the eye before pressing them. Remember that they will be quite crisp once dry so adjusting them after the fact will be tricky!

Using Glue Dots, I carefully affixed the dried plants onto 18 “x 20″ high quality paper. Herbarium sheets generally have identification cards in the lower right hand corner that, at minimum, state the scientific name, common name, date and location of cultivation.  You’ll be surprised how easy it is to find this information on the internet. A few key words will lead you to the info you need sooner than you would think.

I chose a minimalist frame so that the plant it self was the focus. I also went back and forth whether or not to mat the pages. I decided against them- I liked the less polished feel but included them in the back of the frames so my friend could add them if she wanted to or use them for something else.

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Ready for gift wrap!

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