Pressed-plant Light Catchers
several pieces of cardboard, 12- by 18-inches
2 panes of glass (size will depend on the size of the plant you wish to use)
1. Collect maidenhair fern, lady fern, fall leaves or other woodland plants; cut them to fit in your frame.
2. Place each plant between layers of newspaper. Stack the layers with a piece of stiff cardboard on the top and bottom of the stack. Weigh it down with a heavy book or rock.
3. After a week, remove the dried plants and arrange them between the two panes of glass. A small dot of clear glue will keep your arrangement in place.
4. Carefully insert the glass into its frame and hang your pressing in a window.
Bird’s Nest Wreath
This unique decoration is not only fun to make, it provides a one-stop source for your local songbirds’ favorite nest materials. As they visit the wreath, you and your family can observe and learn about them.
wreath or wreath frame (Try making one with grapevine or other flexible woody material from your land, or use a store-bought metal frame. Note: Poison ivy is a woody vine, and its stem is as poisonous as its leaves! Make sure you can identify this plant.)
woodland items that birds might use in their nest, including:
small twigs or vines
lichens and mosses (Phoebes really like these.)
hair (your dog’s or your own) or fiber (from sheep, goats or llamas)
fine roots from your garden and fallen trees
dried flowers and vines from your garden
old spider webs (Vireos secure nests with them.)
paper birch bark
1. Lay your collected materials around your wreath or wreath frame. Experiment with different arrangements of material.
2. Attach the materials to the wreath by weaving them into an original design.
3. Place your wreath where you can see it.
4. Watch as birds come to your wreath and take different materials to build their nests. If you like, record the materials used by different birds.
As birds remove the wreath materials, replace them to keep your feathered friends coming back for more.
(This article originally appeared in "Farm-to-Forest Connections.")
About the Authors: Allaire Diamond researches, writes about and consults on non-timber forest products. She lives in Williston, Vt. Autumn Foushée is a freelance writer and natural resources professional based in Burlington, Vt.