The boxes are all unpacked and the garden design is done – soon to be installed this fall. In the meantime, it’s time to start the cosmetic makeover inside our house. I don’t want my love for nature to stop at the door, so I spent some time and a little money on second hand goods that celebrate my love of plants.

vintage-botanical-booksMy aunt found some old botanical books at a thrift store that she shared with me. I just adore these old plant books. Their information is often timeless and the delicate illustrations are sublime to any plant nerd’s standards. I gathered up a stack of second hand frames in various sizes, but all in black, to make a collection of my favorite drawings.


Simple frames keep the focus on the drawings. Even if the frames are slightly different, having them all the same color simplifies the collection and keeps it from seeming too busy. They just needed a good cleaning prior to framing the images.


I couldn’t bring myself to tear the illustrations out of the books. Instead, I scanned in my favorite drawings to preserve the originals. I used a combination of Photoshop and InDesign to crop the drawings and size them to fit the various frames. If you don’t have those programs, you could just go old school and do it with scissors to cut your prints to size.


After printing, I laid out all the frames and began matching different images to different frames. I wanted a balance of floral illustrations with conifers, bushy plants with thin leggy ones.


In the end, there was a nice range of seasons in the drawings I framed. Almost all are North American natives and many are native to my own backyard in the Pacific Northwest.


The largest grouping will go in our bedroom, where we have a nice neutral gray on the wall. A smaller collection will be in Juniper’s bedroom, including the picture of Mountain Juniper.


We had one stray frame that didn’t match the others in style or color. I put a sweet flowering sedge in that frame and intent to hang it in the bathroom.


These old botanical books are still floating around out there in used bookstores or overlooked thrift store shelves. The project was really easy and didn’t cost more than a few bucks, but I think it will add a nice piece of botanical history and artistry to our new home. Stay tuned for more on how we’re adding some nature-loving updates to our cosmetic fixer!

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Written by Renee Wilkinson