The Plant Lab


These adorable sprites are a wonderful way to explore the gardens. Each natural creation turns out to be very different and they have a personality all their own. Herbs add lovely fragrances to these little folk and supplying wings, arms and legs to the tiny, little people.

This is so simple. Just go on a nature walk with a good size container. Let your child collect things that appeal to them. Whether they smell good or look pretty or feel soft or smooth, allow them to explore with their senses. Just make sure a pinecone is in the collection for the body, a small, smooth rock for the base and a variety of herbs like lavender, rosemary, thyme and basil.

The only other thing you need is your imagination and a glue gun. Glue away and bring your fairy friend to life. Your child can direct this process even if they can’t yet use a glue gun. Ask them what they want to add next and where to place it.

Remember to give it a name. Your child may wish to write a story about their fairy creation. It’s also fun to play a game where the fairy has a new place in the house each day. Family members will have fun secretly placing the sprite in unexpected places. The children will love this hide-and-seek adventure. You never know where their fairy friend will turn up next!

The vibrant colors from the garden provide loads of inspiration for young budding artists. The process of pounding those colors directly from the source onto paper or cloth is magical. It can be done year-round and is a simple project to put together.

Here’s what you need:
• Rubber mallet (hammers can be too damaging to the organic material)
• Container (for gathering flowers or herbs)
• Scissors (for trimming organic material)
• Cotton or muslin material (this can be a scrap if you want to frame the art or a t-shirt if you want to wear the art)
• Paper (watercolor paper works best as it absorbs)

This project begins with a fun nature walk to gather materials for the art. Take your time and enjoy this part of the process. The best herbs and flowers are the ones that can lay flat. However, you can experiment with others if you don’t mind partial images or if you just love the color of something and can’t resist it. Daisies, pansies, violas, ferns and fall leaves all create wonderful images and the colors are great too.

Once you are ready to begin pounding, make sure you have a solid surface to work on. The sidewalk is a good place to work. If working indoors, make sure to protect countertops or furniture with something.

Greeting card example:

Cut your paper to the size you want and fold it in half to make the card. Then lay the paper out flat (unfolded). Trim all stems from the flower or herb until you have the desired size. The fragrance of herbs will last a long time, so consider adding your favorite smell to the arrangement as well as your favorite colors. Arrange the entire work of art before you start to pound so you have a sense for what the final product will look like. You can even take individual leave or petals off and place them however you want.

Lay the cloth on top of the card, sandwiching the flowers and herbs in between. Depending on the age of the child, they may need help keeping the cloth steady during the pounding process. Then without moving the cloth, pound away gently making sure to strike the entire surface until it seems damp all over.

Carefully peal back the cloth in one corner to see if the flower color has transferred to the paper. If it does not look complete, lay the cloth back down and continue pounding. Once you are satisfied, gently peel off the cloth and allow the paper to dry a little. You can place it in the sun to make this go a little faster.

If your project is a t-shirt or cloth canvas for framing, the process is the same except your canvas should be placed on the bottom and another piece of cloth on the top before pounding. If you make a t-shirt, you should spray the final project with some sort of waterproof sealant to make sure it withstands the laundry.