Mother Nature is a creative genius when it comes to design. So, it’s no wonder so many designers steal her looks. You don’t need a design degree or an HGTV show to play around with natural foraged decor. Whether dried leaves or beautiful rocks, nature’s beauty can be turned into gorgeous design for your home!
Decorating from the wild, however, requires special considerations. Here are a few tips to get you started foraging for decor.
Always connect with a plant before clipping, as funny as that sounds. It’s essential not to take too much, but to let some grow for the next individual to enjoy.
Put on gloves and long pants – poison ivy loves to snuggle up to flowering branches. Many other plants irritate the skin, such as silky oak; plumeria sap can irritate the eyes, and many people have allergies to certain grasses (cue the sneezing attacks). Beware of microscope needles in species such as cactus fruit.
Stay off private property and obey any laws prohibiting removing indigenous material. It is also important to be aware of the unwritten rules of a place – for example, moving stones in Hawaii is frowned upon, and in fact, tourists have been known to ship back lava rocks, stones, and sand they have taken from the islands out of fear of Pele’s Curse.
The key to a happy bouquet is debugging your plants. Before putting plant material in your car or bag, shake it. After returning home, hose or rinse everything in cold water to prevent bringing bird mites, spider mites, and more into the house.
Beware of Poisonous Plants
Floral foraging can be dangerous. Known as laurel of flower, oleander is a deadly shrub of Mediterranean origin – all of its leaves, flowers, stems, branches, and seeds are highly poisonous. Know what not to touch before you go foraging!
Below are easy ways to add an organic element to your space.
Tree Stump – Petrified stumps are expensive antiques, often costing thousands. Find a younger version and begin drying, debarking, and sanding. It’s up to you how far you want to go with the refurbishing – from a natural “raw” finish to an epoxy-coated super-gloss.
Sea Shells – Although I don’t live at the ocean, my sister does, and we often drive the four hours to visit with her and her family many times throughout the year. I have a whole bin filled with shells we’ve collected by the seashore over the years. Seashells can be used for SO MANY decorative projects, from wind chimes to soap dishes to curtains. One unique way to use a shell is as a little salt storage next to your stove! Wash and dry the shells, then coat them inside with food-grade organic beeswax or shellac, and fill with salt and pepper. A tiny spoon is a nice touch.
Branches by the Side of the Road – I travel with a pair of branch clippers in my car! You never know when you’ll need to pull over to the side of the road to cut some quince, forsythia, cherry blossoms, or in colder climates, holly, and other berry-strewn branches. A single stem can create a beautiful, minimalist statement.
Feather Bouquets – Keep your eyes open for brightly colored or patterned feathers when you’re out in nature. You can put a few of them in a silver cup or glass jar; they look great on a desk like old-fashioned writing quills. You need to be aware that there are rules surrounding the kinds of feathers you can collect, even if they are on the ground, so research ahead of time.
Rock Collecting – Nature smoothes rocks over time, sometimes carving hearts and other enchanting shapes into them. The right stone can be a pretty tabletop objet d’art or even a practical paperweight for your home office.
Catch the Tumbleweed! – I have always had a thing for tumbleweeds. If you’re lucky enough to see one blow by your car and it’s safe to do so, pull over and try to catch the tumbleweed. Tumbleweeds are such pretty objects that can be displayed hanging from the ceiling intertwined with lighting, or even just placed on a shelf.
I hope this gets some creative juices flowing for you in your next foraging for decor adventure! If you have any tips or ideas we didn’t cover, please share in the comments below!