We have a treat for you today. It involves smashing stuff. With rocks. Cathartic, right? As soon as the Garden closed last month, our Education and Visitor Experience team dug through its trove of materials for lessons and activities to replicate at home. Among the offerings: flower pounding. It’s part craft, part stress management tool, and requires nothing more than materials you likely have on hand: paper, paper towel, rolling pin or rock, flower and leaf clippings from your yard. The idea is to create natural collages using the pigment in the plants.
Flower pounding is a good activity for any age, though let me say this: If you have little kids, you will have a much different experience than me. I have big kids. So do my neighbors. At the time of this writing in mid-March prior to stay-at-home orders, there are six teens and preteens assembled — at a distance — in my backyard, and I’ve addressed the question, “Why do we have to do this??” a half dozen times. I finally respond, “Because I will buy you ice cream if you do.” There is sudden complicity.
The kids fan out to gather clippings from the bougainvillea, the ixora, the ferns, and the weeds. I encourage especially the use of the latter. We collect them in a basket — pretty, right?
To make the collages, you lay the clippings on a piece of blank paper. We use card stock that I had left over from a previous project. Place a piece of paper towel over the clippings. Pound with a rock, rolling pin or other heavy object until the plants release their pigment. You’ll see the colors bleed through the paper towel. Gently remove the paper towel, and notice what shapes and patters are left behind. A bit of experimentation is in order: Some items like the ferns and bougainvillea flowers produce a lovely hue. Others leave behind a nondescript blob of plant matter. That was true of the weeds. Figures.
The kids had set up on a concrete patio, which turned out not to be an ideal surface. The cement texture marred the paper, but I did not want six kids pounding my dining room table. You’ll have to forgive our less-than-pristine results.
Try it out, and let us know how it goes! We welcome comments at email@example.com.
About the Author
Jennifer Reed is the Editorial Director of Naples Botanical Garden and a longtime Southwest Florida journalist.