Bring the sacred indoors with elements foraged from nature.
You’d be hard pressed to find a problem that cannot be helped by spending time in nature. Studies tell us that even pictures of nature can help us feel calm. Whether we go out to meet nature, or bring nature inside to brighten our rooms, we can infuse the wild sacred beauty of nature into our experience of life.
Ariella Chezar, a floral designer and sustainable flower farmer has been an inspiration to me since I met her years ago for her ability to showcase this wild beauty from often overlooked materials. Branches and vines are as present in her creations as perfectly sculptured blooms. They add dimension and sensual beauty that is breathtaking.
Chezar’s recent book The Flower Workshop: Lessons in Arranging Blooms, Branches, Fruits, and Foraged Materials brings her aesthetic to life as she describes her process in creating designs that invoke a sense of awe and wonder. She writes:
I urge you to look at what nature has to offer. Sometimes when I want to distinguish a bouquet or elevate an entire look to a grand level, I’ll take to fields or woods. I’ve often pulled my car to the side of the road because a splash of color caught my eye. There I’ll discover a perfect wild crabapple that will find its way into an evening arrangement.
The process of foraging can feel like a treasure hunt, where your eye is drawn to something because your awareness is open to discovery. Chezar is swift to add that “often what you are liberating from the roadside are vines and weeds that choke more established plantings. In such cases your foraging will be welcome. If you are going after something other than a weed, always ask permission.”
The cycles of nature become evident when you begin to forage. “The life cycle of a plant has an apex, a moment when it is freshest and most replete, when it has a unique life force.” Inviting this energy into your space can serve to enliven it, offering its beauty to your space as a gift.
Another beautiful book, Foraged Art: Creative Projects Using Blooms, Branches, Leaves, Stones, and Other Elements Discovered in Nature written by Peter Cole and Leslie Jonath, offers an unusual way to allow nature to inspire you. It invites you to be led by the shapes, textures, and colors of the natural world as you create mandalas from petals, wrap trunks of trees with blades of grass, and arrange stones on the sand in shape of stars. This is truly about awakening your playful, creative side in the natural world.
Cole and Jonath also encourage being fully aware of the seasons and cycles found in nature. They write, “The life cycle of a plant contains beauty in each moment- the fragile tenderness of new leaves and buds, the robust abundance of fruit and flowers, the ethereal quality of falling leaves, or the potency of pods and seeds. The life cycle of a plant is a work of art in itself, and making foraged art allows us to appreciate these distinct moments in time.”
From creating spirals made of individual fern leaves, to sculpting leaf creatures- playfully designed with various leaves and tendrils of vines- to making “skirts” for trees with leaves arranged artfully around its base, creating foraged art becomes a creative adventure in which your only limitation is your imagination.
Nature surrounds us, wherever we are. In cities it may require more seeking, even if it means ducking into the flower shop on the corner, or noticing the dandelions bravely and defiantly poking their heads out from the cracks in the sidewalk. Wherever it is found, we have the power to invite it into the spaces of our lives. Chezar emphatically agrees, “the hypnotic beauty of plants and flowers still astonishes me. Their abundant beauty enhances our surroundings, reminding us that just being alive is worth celebrating.”