Flower foraging is not only a daily adventure for me, but a valuable learning experience too. I like to constantly learn and improve my knowledge of flowers and all things botanical. I've built up quite a collection of pressed wildflowers over the years, and I'm now the proud owner of my very own miniature pressed botanical library. It's important to me that my flowers are not bought online, but are sourced and picked from my surroundings. I've always advocated that my processes, materials and inspirations are all sourced locally and are distinct to me. It's what keeps me on my toes and allows me to freely explore my own creative yearnings, and not be dependent on external influences and trends.
I began using Queen Anne's Lace many years ago before it became ubiquitous amongst resin makers nowadays. I have always felt the urge to move as far away as possible from the over saturated mainstream, and have started once again to source other flowers that makers have yet to discover. I found Cow Parsley to be the perfect alternative. It grows in abundance where I live from late May, billowing out from the woodlands like puffs of shimmering clouds. It's quite a sight to behold when venturing through a forest sprayed with delicate white blooms:
'Neath billowing skies that scatter and amass.
All round our nest, far as the eye can pass,
Are golden kingcup-fields with silver edge
Where the cow-parsley skirts the hawthorn-hedge.
'Tis visible silence, still as the hour-glass.
-Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Cow Parsley is often confused with Queen Anne's Lace, but it is indeed a different flower. They are both from the Apiaceae family and are Umbellifers plants due to their umbrella-like flower heads. Cow Parsley is commonly known as Wild Chervil (Anthriscus sylvestris), while Queen Anne's Lace is Wild Carrot (Daucus carota).
It is also worth noting that both plants must be observed methodically before picking or ingesting; in particular with Cow Parsley or 'Devils Parsley' as it is often referred to due to its very close resemblance to Hemlock (Conium maculatum); a fatally poisonous weed that should never be touched or ingested. To distinguish between the two, just remember: Cow Parsley has a slightly hairy green stalk and fern-like, triangular, 3-pinnate leaves with pointed segments, while hemlock has a thick stalk speckled with purple dots, feathery, 2-4 pinnate leaves and a pungent musty aroma. Many people have been unknowingly poisoned by Hemlock in the past believing it was either Queen Anne's Lace or Cow Parsley, which are both edible before they begin to flower.
When I pick Cow Parsley, I normally wear a glove to protect my skin from sap or nettles which grow in amongst the flowers. The sap isn't harmful, like Hogweed would be (causes severe burns), but as I have quite a medley of skin sensitivities and allergies, I always take extra precautions.
Buttercups and Japanese Roses are also flourishing in profusion in the local parks near me. The aroma of the Japanese Rose (Rosa rugosa) is the most heavenly fragrance. No wonder it has been used for centuries to make pot-pourri. I plucked a few heart-shaped petals to press, but always leave the stamen, as bees love these flowers, and they are an important source of food for them.
The meadows are dotted with yellow floral confetti in the form of dazzling buttercups (Ranunculus) ; Creeping, Meadow and Bulbous varieties are out in full force and offer the most beautiful vista, especially set against a foreboding grey sky. These are such easy flowers to press, and I use them extensively in my work. My buttercup pendant with my signature 24k gold leaf background is an ode to my childhood days spent picking these blissful blooms and playing amongst the wildflowers. They always carry fond memories for me, which you can read more about here.