Recently, while browsing my Instagram feed, I came across a post from Sarah Sherman Samuel, an interior designer living in Michigan. She displayed forage art portraits she and her children created using only the flora found during their latest nature walk. Inspired, I collected my daughter, dog and husband and headed out into the neighborhood. We thoroughly enjoyed searching the road ditches and our yard for material. As we discovered gems, I’m sure that had been passed by unnoticed during our previous walks, we took time to examine each one. We discussed which plants with which we were familiar, and photographed ones unknown so that we could research the plants when back home.
The day that we took this walk succeeded a night of heavy storms. The roads, trees and bushes had been washed and pollen knocked down (thankfully!), which provided a great opportunity for foraging. As we wound deeper into our neighborhood, we began to notice orange flowers strewn about the road and filling the ditches. The farther we walked, the more congested they became. It was a pleasant “game” to search for these discarded flowers, and was even more exciting to eventually find their sources! These flowers were from a Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata) plant, wound around a roadside tree.
You will need:
To get started, I laid out my white cloth and carefully sorted our foraged materials into like kinds. This isn’t necessary, but I thought it helpful. My husband and I each had our own 10×14 white construction paper, which served as a base for each portrait, and scissors to provide any necessary foliage trimming. With a little creativity, we assembled the faces. I highly recommend including eyebrows on the portrait – my first iteration didn’t have them, and my final one had so much more personality because of their inclusion!
This forage art activity provided a much-needed break during this time of quarantine. Importantly, it changed the way we experience our neighborhood walks. Now, we are a little more observant of the plant life we pass by. So much so, in fact, that I’m going to include a pocket plant guide with our usual walk supply of water, collapsible dog bowl and baby toys. Here are a few plant books I’d recommend for this activity:
National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers–E: Eastern Region – Revised Edition (National Audubon Society Field Guides)
National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers: Western Region – Revised Edition(National Audubon Society Field Guides)
The Carolinas Gardener’s Guide, by Toby Bost & Jim Wilson – region specific, these are available for most places!
Hey! If you feel inspired to create your own forage art, please be kind enough to tag us when you post at Instagram and Facebook. For IG, use these hashtags: #WONphoto & #facethefoliage. We’ll be looking for you!