Applied to the card it serves as an ideal adhesive, almost welding the plant to the paper. Sprayed over the mounted specimen it acts both as a color preservative and protection against handling. A second spraying, after the first has dried, makes a glasslike coating. Spraying specimens through a cut-out opening in another card will give a uniform and neat effect.
There is a very special esthetic pleasure incident to the study of weeds. Many weeds have leaves that are beautifully designed, and some of their little ground-hugging rosettes are exquisitely formed. A pressed weed-leaf and plant collection could be an inspiration to a youngster interested in design. Professionals are aware of this and have done stunning things with weed forms for both textiles and wallpapers.
Tree blossoms would make a most unusual collecting subject. Bar from this collection all of the familiar fruit-producing blossoms and those of the so-called flowering trees. This collection should include only the overlooked, unsung ones.
Few people really notice that almost all trees have blossoms of some sort in the very early spring. Certainly few
children realize it. Assembling them would set off a treasure hunt.
Birches, beeches, oaks, maples, elm, sweet gum, sassafras, cottonwood, quaking aspen, wild cherry, box elder, basswood (or linden), white ash, Ohio buckeye, coffee tree and many others have real flowers. Some are rather inconspicuous. Others are graceful and colorful, ranging from pale chartreuse through a variety of reds and even purples. Many trees bear two sets of blossoms-the staminate ones which are the pollen bearers, and the pistillate ones which produce seeds.
Preserving the tree blossoms may be done in either of two ways. Most of them can be pressed successfully if handled correctly. Since they may be quite bulky at times, it is a good idea to flatten them out by force, before putting them into the pressing apparatus. A very heavy weight should be used, and papers changed frequently. The borax three-dimensional drying process described in Chapter 20 may also be used.
A bark collection is a valuable one for children interested in tree identification. Automobile trips and camp outings will provide an opportunity to look for specimens. Occasionally interesting barks may be picked up right on the home grounds. The papyrus-like bark that rolls off mature beauty-bushes (Kolkwitzia amabilis) during the winter, like a snake shedding its skin, is one example. Sharp young eyes may detect others.