Monday, November 29, 2021

The Creative Art of Leaf Manipulation

Photos by Maria Lamb | A good turnout for the outdoor workshop on leaf manipulation for members of the Calusa Garden Club.


It was an exciting Monday morning as members of the Calusa Garden Club moved from an indoor Zoom format to an outdoor workshop on the Creative Art of Leaf Manipulation. Every participant brought leaves from their garden such as assorted types of palm fronds, dracaena, aspidistra, sansevieria (mother in laws tongue), ginger, and red ti leaves just to name a few.

Held at Mackle Park and using one of the outdoor picnic tables, fourteen members altered foliage they brought by folding, twisting, rolling, cutting, pleating, braiding, or wiring. For the beginners, it was like learning a new language. Manipulated leaves can be used to enhance a floral design to give it depth, a new innovative look, or the WOW factor for the visual impact it needs.

Members who are into floral design are always looking for new ways to make their floral designs standout. Who knew you can do so many creative things to a leaf? Connie Lowery, Jackie Purvis, Sue Oldershaw and Sara Wolf demonstrated how to slit a leaf down the middle, curl it or tuck it back in to reveal a new twist or interesting visual effect. 

Many of these leaves came plentiful from the garden and it was ok to “mess up.” You just start all over again. Aspidistra leaf was very versatile – you can make a ribbon or ripple design, or you can roll it, crisscross, weave it or even string or pleat it.



Both Sara Wolf and Jackie Purvis recommended checking out various You Tube tutorials as a supplement to the workshop. The more trial and errors, the easier it will be to manipulate various types of leaves. Garden club members practiced cutting, bending, looping and braiding palm fronds and pandanus leaves. To the author, it was not as easy as it looked. Her braiding technique kept unravelling! The members came away with a better appreciation on the “101 creative ways” to braid a palm frond. 

Jennifer Ferrier holding a collection of her braided leaf creations. This one is for her Grandma.

If you were successful braiding your palm frond, you can take it home and the braid will stay even when dried. You can also spray paint it and use it as an accent in your floral arrangements.

This is the last floral design event for the Calusa Garden Club members and they will not meet again until October 2021 to start their new season. Though forced to share most of their workshops via Zoom, that did not deter club members from sharing their floral designs with each other during the monthly meetings. The informal Zoom sessions included discussions on horticulture, floral design and the environment.

Club members also had a virtual photographic tour of members’ gardens courtesy of Sara Wolf and Susan LaGrotta. This was very popular with members not being able to meet personally and visit each other.

Throughout the year, the last Saturday of each month is dedicated to the maintenance of the Butterfly Garden at Calusa Park on Winterberry Drive. A group of dedicated members make sure that there are plenty of nectar and host plants for the many butterflies that visit the garden. 

The Calusa Garden Club is a member of the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs. Membership is open to those interested in horticulture, floral design and the environment. For more information, visit or visit the Club’s Facebook page at Calusa Garden Club.



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