Spring is well and truly in full bloom around Ireland. For me, spring is highly anticipated as it marks the beginning of not only longer, brighter days and evenings, but the emergence of vibrant new floral delights and the re-birth of the flower pressing season.
I am constantly scanning the woodlands, parks and gardens for the slightest sign of colour. I am also very conscious that the bees must be acquainted with them first (many dandelions, crocus and daffodils are their first encounters with food since the long winter months), so I am mindful to only pick a very small selection to press and preserve.
I have also undertaken a small project to ensure a more bountiful harvest of flowers this coming summer; my own miniature wildflower garden. I normally sow a few seeds in the garden this time of year to ensure I have a nice crop of flowers, such as cornflowers, forget-me-nots and nigella's. However, It's been a long yearning of mine to plant more varieties and cultivate my own secret garden. Down the line, it's my ambition to have my own flower farm, but for now I'm taking baby steps!
I purchased a few packets of seeds and began the process of propagating them.
I bought these affordable propagators at a local shop. I began by punctuating the base of the tray with some holes to allow proper drainage (a bradawl works well for this). I did the same for the lid to enable ventilation and prevent a build up of condensation. I then spread a layer of nutrient rich compost onto the base, then placed the seeds on top, roughly 0.5 cm apart. Finally, I covered them with another layer of compost and spritzed some water on the surface with a sprayer. It's also best to stand the tray in a bath of fresh water and leave for a few minutes so the soil gets nicely hydrated without overly saturating the seeds. I marked each section with a lollipop stick with the flower name written on each one, which should prevent a head scratching guessing game later on!
Lastly, I cleared a spot on my workspace in my studio, which gets a good amount of sun, and keeps them warm and snug from any frost or heavy downpours outside. Now they're all tucked up in their little homes, and I'm eagerly waiting their arrival!
The daffodils were out in full force in the garden, adding an injection of much needed colour and an instant air of happiness. I always feel that these are the perfect bloom to herald in the spring and their various vibrant tones fill me with a rejuvenated sense of creativity.
Daffodil picking in the garden with my furry friend 'Socks'; a sweet little kitty who came to live with us one day.
Petal presser extraordinaire! As the flower heads are too large for my jewellery projects, I delicately remove them from their trumpet-like base and press each buttery petal. I find it a little sad to deconstruct such a beautifully structural flower, but I know they will have a new lease of life in a pretty piece of jewellery.
The pansies too make their debut early and flower right through until winter. They're a firm favourite of mine, and they always remind me of sweet tiny faces beaming out from the flower beds. They're very easy to grow and love a thorough dousing of rain and sunshine. Make sure to de-head any wilting or snail nibbled petals regularly, so new flowers can flourish.
I prefer to press the pansies using the Book Method, as it's simple, practical and dries the flowers in 2-3 weeks.
Pretty pansies before the book closes and reveals their new form in a few short weeks.
Today, I decided to take advantage of the Spring sunshine and headed over to the War Memorial Gardens, in Islandbridge for my morning stroll and flower foraging. The beautiful setting of this park evokes such serenity and peace. It's nestled in between the river Liffey and an ornamental garden, and enveloped by monumental granite enclosures. It's hard not to be inspired by such a tranquil vista.
A single magnolia tree coils around a statuesque column, budding with candy floss toned petals. These trees are a favourite of mine and are a symbol of nobility, perseverance, dignity and a love of nature.
I must admit that my true intention for my venture to the gardens was the cherry blossom grove. The tree branches were gracefully bowed with copious amounts of delightful alabaster and pink blossoms. Here is a Shogetsu blossom; large silky white flowers, which hang from the tree like miniature posies.
The earliest bloomer of the cherry blossoms is the Kanzakura; its blushed billowy flowers are a real treat to encounter. I picked a handful of these for preserving, careful not to disturb the tree to much. I also gathered the fallen blooms which were scattered like confetti on the grassy floor beneath.
The graceful splendour of the Kanzakura.
It is very easy to get enamoured by these blooms. They evoke a real sense of femininity and fragile beauty due to their delicate form and momentary phase of blooming. I've always had such a fascination with them and it's my full intention to plant my own grove of cherry blossoms someday; a girl can dream! For now, I will continue foraging in my surroundings and 'cherry' pick the best finds along the way.