Grasses and ferns make exquisite patterns, as do almost all leaves. Experiment with ivy, sassafras, geranium, columbine, grape, honey locust or any leaf of pleasing formation. Some flowers, particularly single-petaled ones with flat centers, may be successfully printed, although they are a little harder to handle.
It is interesting to note that a process very similar to the above, known as "nature printing," was used in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries by professional makers of botanical prints to record accurate facsimiles of plant specimens. Plants were pressed and dried before being inked. Usually the finished prints were delicately tinted with water colors.
The spatter system, which leaves the leaf form in solid silhouette against a color-spattered background, is another form of leaf-printing. Leaves or flowers are arranged on a piece of paper. Then a small piece of window screening is held four or five inches above the paper, and paint (usually poster colors) is brushed across the screen with a toothbrush to spatter the exposed background. Paint is allowed to dry, and leaves are then lifted off. A similar effect is achieved by lightly spraying paint around the leaves from an aerosol paint can.
Young camera fans, eagerly snapping their first pictures, or older children earnestly pursuing picture-taking as a hobby, may be surprised to learn how photogenic garden subjects are. Suggest that they take pictures of their gardens at the beginning of the season, and again when flowers are in full bloom.
Oddities they have grown or specialties of which they are proud are obvious subjects.
If a child is old enough, and possessed of enough pocket money, a portrait lens attachment will enable him to experiment with close-up shots of individual flowers. Show him examples of flower photography done by professionals and experienced amateurs that appear in camera and garden magazines. Who knows but that he may find in this field a congenial vocation or avocation? Whether he follows through or not, at least he will become more aware of the structural beauty and complicated forms of plants, blossoms, leaves and seed pods.
To achieve any really good results the child should study his subject, either through reading instructive literature, or under the guidance of a sympathetic and knowledgeable adult Many inexpensive booklets are issued by camera companies.
Painting is an effortless pursuit for most children. Few of them have inhibitions about wielding a paintbrush or colored crayons to record their impressions on paper. Lack of special talent daunts them not, and splashy flower colors fascinate them.
Making pictures of their own gardens, or of bouquets or individual blossoms from it, is an idea that need only be suggested, not pushed.