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Most of us love the idea of including nature in our lives, but often times we find ourselves too busy to make it out to the trails or park. Some of us can’t even manage to make it to a flower shop once a week. So, what are we to do? How do we keep our homes and apartments from being more than just collections of furniture and squared edges?

With dried and preserved plants, we can all — no matter how busy we normally are — have a taste of nature in our décor. These plants, or better put, plant parts don’t need watering. They don’t need freshening. They don’t require weekly trips down to the corner. They just get put in place, and they’ll provide pizzazz for months to come.

While most of us don’t think of dead stuff as being beautiful, it’s undeniable that some of it is.

preserved cones

Source: VerseVend/Flickr

Collected in dry conditions

Some plant parts are easy to collect as is and simply leave around as decorations. They dry naturally on the tree or vine or stem, and they can be transplanted to decorative bowls or bouquets for long-lasting natural beauty.

  • Cones can be captivating to look at. It sounds a bit silly, but study the arrangement of parts for a moment. They are a natural wonder. They can be sourced from several types of evergreen trees and shrubs: Juniper, pine, and spruce are the most familiar. Piled in a wooden bowl on a table or shelf, cones look beautiful.
  • Dried seed pods are another naturally available natural decoration that’ll last for ages without maintenance. And, they can be piled in a bowl to look distinctive and distracting. Cotton balls, lotus pods, acorn lids, maple whirlybirds, and multi-colored corn are amongst the most beloved.
  • Dried reeds and grasses can be bundled into a vase and left to provide natural beauty for many weeks and months to come. Some of the best choices for doing this are meadow grass, cattails, pampas grass, and bamboo.
  • Branches are another easily found, potentially just picked up off the ground, natural decoration for the house. Many types of trees have very distinct branches to enjoy. Willow, eucalyptus, and birch make great small diameter choices, such as would be stood in a vase, and larger diameter birch also makes nice stacks of logs or posts.
Dried Flowers

Source: swang168/Flickr

Collected from fresh plants

Other plant parts are better to harvest from fresh plants and dry out of weather conditions, such as between the pages of a book or in natural desiccants like sand or borax. Once dried, the plant parts will be preserved for extended periods and provide color and class to home décor.

  • Flowers are probably more often enjoyed with fresh blooms and buds, but many varieties will last for a long time if preserved properly. Three of the simplest and oldest methods for preserving flowers are air-drying, pressing (to close flowers in a book for about of week) and submerging flowers in sand. Some of the best flowers to use are roses, lavender, larkspur, and baby’s breath.
  • Leaves, particularly the colorful autumn leaves, can provide wonderful, yet understated, flashes of color that make a home feel warm and inviting. Leaves from certain trees and plants — oak, magnolia, palm, and ferns — are fantastic for flamboyant preservation. For the most part, preserving leaves involves coating them in something like wax or decoupage.

Source: Liz Castro/Flickr

Bought at the store/market, etc.

Beyond the plants and plant pieces listed above, there are other choices out there for decorating with natural botanical items that require little to no looking after. Many of these items can be bought in run-of-the-mill supermarkets and farmers markets.

  • Bark, particularly cinnamon bark, looks beautiful in nicely tied bundles, and it provides aromatic flash to a room as well. Full on cinnamon sticks are available at many markets. Another bark, though not found in supermarkets, worth considering is birch bark.
  • Nuts are a simple but enticing natural decoration. They work very well during the holiday season, but they can do the job at other times as well. Just buy some in-shell nuts from the supermarket and put them in a wooden bowl. Another excellent, though not edible, nut to try for decoration is the buckeye.
  • Gourds, a relative of squashes and pumpkins, dry out to make wonderful, cavernous shells with tough, rigid exteriors and muted natural colors. Plus, there are fresh ornamental gourds that provide vibrant colors and unusual shapes. Gourds can be set individually on shelves or collected in baskets.

Of course, there are any number of combinations that can happen amongst these decorations. And, there are seasonal variations that make the who thing that much more fun. We can play with colors and shapes and even smells to make natural home décor something to enjoy for months with little more than the occasional dusting.

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