Falling Leaves

“The Falling leaves drift by my window

The falling leaves of red and gold …….” Johnny Mercer Songbook

Even in the Berkshires where most leaves have fallen, there are still beautiful leaves left to preserve for all kinds of designs.

Red maple leaves are among the most brilliant right now.  Most of them are already fairly dry but still pliable enough to be handled without shattering.  If Hurricane Sandy is expected near you, maybe a quick leaf round-up is a good idea.

To keep their beauty, they can be  preserved with wax.  Melt some paraffin or beeswax either in a dedicated pan or in a makeshift double boiler arrangement as I have here.  I have had this can of wax for a long time, not too much left.

Using tongs, dip the leaf quickly in and out of the wax   Allow it to drip for a few seconds and place it on newspaper.  The wax sets up very quickly and leaves a satiny sheen.  The advantage of dipping them in wax is that they retain their natural shapes.  Pressing between waxed-paper makes them flat.

These leaves will last for a long time if kept dry and cool in a dark spot (or a dark box!).

Mama Nature creates the best designs of all.  I’ve combined them with a stunning wood bowl from the Highlands of North Carolina on a old inlaid table.  The first time I saw waxed leaves used in this casual, drifting manner was at Campo de Fiori (see “Shop Seven,” September archive).

These leaves may be used in all sorts of design projects.  Wrap the stems on a pick with brown stretchy florist tape and the stems can be inserted in wreaths singly or in clusters.

Yellow and russet leaves are just tucked in among the beautiful chrysanthemums.  The satin finish of the leaves is a great textural contrast to the liveliness of the recurving  mum petals.







About Susan

Susan Detjens is a former landscape painter, she lectures, demonstrates and runs workshops on floral design for museums, horticultural organizations and garden clubs across the US.
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