Flowers and fairies, pollinators, and plant pressings

Whenever I take a walk, I look around and see magic. Mostly, I just admire it; sometimes, I want to keep it. 

lantana flower pressing

A leaf is a leaf, a flower is a flower. I used to see the world as beautiful splotches of greens and browns, with some pops of color here and there, and I'm sure a lot of us still do. It's understandable, there's just so many of them! But, how do I now know these plants? There are patterns and visual cues like leaf arrangements, size and shape, and growing habits that make identifying plants easier - but connecting with plants is the best way to form a relationship.

Right now, I can see out my window the stunning crane flowers of the giant birds of paradise, and just past that, the bright fuschia modified-leaves of the bougainvillea. In the mornings, finches and hummingbirds sip on the oozing nectar, and just below, a Queen Palm drops its orange drupes, while squirrels play in the pomegranate. Trailing jasmine just finished blooming along the fence near the shaded parts of sword fern and clover, and now out front, where just before there were chickweed and nasturtium and a variety of microgreens/wild weeds, bright yellow daylilies and whimsical lilies-of-the-nile steal the show. 

From there, I take walks, and notice the plants as they change with the seasons. Some of them I don't know the name of, but I know the way they grow, and I know the way they smell. It helps to remember, sometimes, by collecting them.

plant press wood grain detail

Summer Solstice: the longest day of the year, and the shortest night; according to folklore, it is also the time where the veil between worlds is thin, and the fairies come out to play! If you go out to pick flowers, you just might see a fairy...

But make sure to always, always leave some for the birds and the bees!

This might be a little side track on a blog posting about flower pressings, but it is National Pollinator Week, and I think learning about pollination is important!

The world wouldn't be what it is today without pollinators: organisms that transport pollen from one flower to another flower's reproductive parts. Birds, butterflies, and insects (like bees!) have a mutual relationship with flowering plants, where flowers provide food in the form of nectar, and in return, these pollinators provide pollen transportation - an invaluable service that ensures plant fertilization and reproduction (sex!)

It is estimated that about 80% of flowering plants on earth (that is, about 250,000 species) need the help of other organisms to transfer their pollen (this is called biotic pollination). These plants support so many ecosystems, including ours: about a third of the world's crops (fruits, nuts, and vegetables) rely on pollinators! Many of our favorite things wouldn't exist without this relationship, like chocolate, tequila, and coffee. 

Flowering plants have evolved to attract pollinators using pollination syndromes: traits such as color, odor, size, shape, and even reward types like nectar composition (read more: hummingbirds and nicotine; bees and caffeine), and the timing of flowering.

Yet, pollinator populations have been in decline, and part of that decline is attributed to loss of feeding and nesting habitat. While we might also be attracted to the beauty of flowers and their lovely floral fragrances, we must remember: flowers are a source of food for pollinators, and are a part of the plant's reproductive cycle. 

With that said, consider your impact.

Be like the bees... those pollen-dusted creatures are practically the closest thing we have to real life fairies!
 

how to make flower pressings
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flower pressings arrangements
trimming down plant pressings
flowers for pressing
plant pressings
leftover flowers
flower pressings

Gratitude to Chuck, for the handmade plant press (made from reclaimed wood).

Happy Solstice!