by SUSAN BOYOUNG BAILEY SCHABACKER
I fondly reminisce on my childhood and our traditional May Day celebrations when we cut long ribbons of rainbow colors, invited all the neighborhood children, and danced around the May Pole set up each year in the back yard. We combed meadows to gather wildflowers and early spring blossoms, then wove them together into flower garlands and wreaths to celebrate the return of spring.
Although we may not “go a-Maying” much anymore, we can kindle the spirit of those days of yore with modern day May Day baskets and family friendly DIY creative crafts you can share as festive gifts to celebrate the welcome rebirth of spring and summer.
FLOWER-IFFIC TEA BLEND
Settle back and celebrate the beauty of spring flowers as you sip and savor a special cuppa floral tea while making ideal tea-blend gifts and sachets. It’s easy – just add essential or fragrance oils to black, green, oolong, puerh, or white tea leaves.
To make this mixture even more irresistible, mix together a medley of dried flowers and add them to the tea blend. There’s nothing more heavenly than your favorite camellia sinesis (tea leaves) combined with beautiful blooms.
Here is a list of edible flowers that would make excellent additions to your flower-iffic tea blend: violets, elderflower, lavender, rose buds and petals, chamomile, calendula, chrysanthemums, blue corn flowers, linden, hibiscus, lotus petals, butterfly pea, jasmine flowers, and osmanthus petals. When choosing which flowers to add, remember that no matter how pretty they may be, some flowers are poisonous – so always double check online to be sure your flowers are edible. Also, if foraging in your backyard or woods, be sure to avoid any plants that may have been treated with pesticides.
Few things are as magical as gathering flowers and herbs to press and dry, then patiently waiting for days or even weeks for the delicate petals to turn into tissue paper thin botanical works of art. While you’ll want to experiment pressing all kinds of grasses and flowers, these are among the tried and true: pansies, Johnny jump ups, violets, periwinkles, grape hyacinth, cherry blossoms, dandelions, lavender, roses, daisies, marigolds, zinnias, Queen Anne’s lace, Rose of Sharon, larkspur, cosmos, borage, columbine, cowslip, myrtle, ferns, shamrocks, rosemary, sage, oregano, thyme, mint, and Italian flat leaf parsley. In addition to flowers, collect a wide variety of leaves, herbs, and grasses.
No specialized equipment is needed to press and dry flowers. Simply place flower petals, grasses, and herbs between two pieces of absorbent paper such as tissue or smooth-surfaced paper towels and tuck them in between pages in the middle of a book then leave the petals to dry. Choose your book wisely since the pages will become dogeared and damaged as moisture in the petals wrinkles the pages. Only use books you don’t mind not being able to read again. Try an old phone book, thick catalog, or heavy, thick hardback book.
Flat petaled flowers are the easiest to work with, and thicker flowers can be split down the middle with a knife or scissors. Place flowers face-down on the paper. Do not overlap the petals and leave some space between each one so they can dry more easily. Add a top layer of paper and continue adding flowers in-between the pages. When finished, pile heavy books on top and let dry for one to two weeks.
PRESSED FLOWER BOOKMARKS
Once dry, the petals will be quite fragile so handle them gently when creating pressed flower crafts. To create a bookmark, cut firm cardstock into the desired shape such as traditional 2×6, 2×7, or 2×8 inch rectangles. Use colored paper or add your own artistic gradients with water colors. Carefully position the leaves, flowers, and herbs. When pleased with your arrangement, glue them down gently with white glue. Let glue dry completely and press overnight. When you’re ready to seal the deal, laminate the bookmark with a peel-off clear plastic sticky sheet. Start by lining up one corner and pressing the top sheet gently down until it adheres as smoothly as possible onto the bottom cardstock. Press one section at a time to avoid air pockets and crinkles.