Weekend Nature Challenge: Pressing Flowers and Leaves

by Melissa Harding

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The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry’s cheek is getting plumper,
The rose is out of town.

The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I’ll put a trinket on.

– Emily Dickinson

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September is a beautiful month – not quite summer, not quite fall.  Flowers are still growing, tomatoes are still on the vine and the sun is still warm enough to bask in, yet leaves are already falling, apples are ready to pick and everything seems to be flavored with cinnamon. This in-between month is a wonderful time to be outside. It is also a very colorful time, even more vibrant than summer; yellow goldenrod, purple blazing star and the red maples are everywhere! Formerly green trees are suddenly a rainbow of colors and even the sides of the road are bright and cheerful. However, while these colors are short-lived, they are also easy to preserve. This is a great time of year for collecting and pressing flowers and leaves.

This weekend, we challenge you and your family to a fall treasure hunt. More specifically, a collecting hunt for flowers and leaves. Find the brightest colors that you can and pick them to take home and preserve. This challenge combines two activities that kids love – outside treasure hunts and smooshing things together. Spend some time scouring the ground, roadside, bushes and trees for a rainbow of plants. While you’re at it, keep your eyes peeled for grasshoppers, groundhogs and other critters who may be out and about. When you get home, press your treasures in a phone book or a flower press; for a faster pressing time, put a heavy object like a dictionary or an iron on top of your press. Check every week until they are your desired crispiness and then use them to decorate your home, make art or just to observe!

Take the next few days to explore the your neighborhood for colorful plants. What did you notice about the plants that you found? Did you find any cool critters or other things of note? Tell us in the comments below.

The above photo was taken by Melissa Harding.

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