“The nostalgia and beauty is incredible— every time I look at them and see the hand -written dates, location and species names, it takes me back in time to when they must have been hand collected”
are a collection of preserved plant specimens; Dating back to the Victorian era, herbariums are collections of preserved plant specimens; these can be whole plants or parts of plants. The practice is essential for the study of plant taxonomy. Drying, pressing and mounting the plants or florals are key to categorising and recording plant specimens as well as recording historical data of specimens that may change over time. Blest prefers cleaning and using the whole plant or flower, keeping it all intact together with the root system which is part of why she is fascinated with the full form. She then mounts the pieces on paper and frames them. More recently, she mounted her latest collection on perspex giving the effect of “being suspended in air and in time”. These unique pieces of art for the home are entirely distinctive from one another, embodying life, history, colour, place and time. “Pressing flowers captures them at the cusp of their decay. There’s a beauty in the preservation of that moment,” Blest says. Each piece is more than a decorative element; they reference a day in history and a specific collection point while being instilled with the plant species’ uniqueness. A pressed plant or flower can be styled effectively on its own – especially the larger pieces – or together as a series of three or four. Leaning the perspex frames against a slate grey wall or a plain-coloured backdrop works well without having to hang them. Consider grouping them together with a large houseplant to create a botanical corner in your home, or placing them on a shelf at eye level so guests can marvel at the intricate details found in every piece. Styling them with a collection of books or on a bookshelf is equally recommended. Blest has worked with many different species. Often the work can be tedious, as drying and avoiding mould or breakage is key to handling these delicate creatures. The slipper orchid is her favourite to work with. “I love the distinct lonely single stem structure,” she says. Blest began pressing plants and florals as a way to record and capture their beauty when photography was not sufficient. But if the question of fleeting florals and plants is still on your mind, just remember these verses by Argentinian poet Antonio Porchia in his book Voces: “Flowers are without hope. Because hope is tomorrow and flowers have no tomorrow.’’ Blest’s works brings new hope, showing that beautiful blooms can transcend time. Available at haydenblest. com; select pieces also at Casa Capriz.