In today’s fast-paced, computer-driven world, doesn’t it feel good to receive a good old-fashioned letter in your mailbox? (It feels pretty good sending a letter, too.) And what says you care more than a handcrafted, one-of-a-kind greeting card made from goodies straight from your garden?!

Final card

Let your loved ones know how much you care with elegant, handcrafted greeting cards created from your garden’s bounty.

Photo Credit: Judith K. Mehl

Card supplies

It doesn’t take a lot of supplies to get this project started.

Photo Credit: Judith K. Mehl

Card with flowers

Dry your flower petals and foliage between plain paper towel sheets before using them on your greeting cards.

Photo Credit: Judith K. Mehl

Card with butterfly

Use your imagination to create just about anything on paper – this butterfly was formed from a few pansy petals and a piece of twig.

Photo Credit: Judith K. Mehl

All you need to get started is some card stock, mailing envelopes, a few craft supplies and a stroll in your garden or local park. Finding the embellishments for this project is really half the fun, and you can use something from nature just about any time of the year. Flower petals and garden foliage work great, but don’t rule out pinecone parts, twigs, dried seed heads, herbs…the list goes on and on! You’re only limited by your imagination – and by how flat the materials are. (Remember, you’re mailing these cards in envelopes.)

Once you’ve gathered the materials, prepare your harvested flowers and leaves by drying them between paper towels. Press flower petals separately, or use tiny blooms that are still intact in your design. And choose your paper towels carefully: Many have embossed patterns that can transfer to the petals – sometimes this adds a nice, subtle texture to your creation, but other times it can be a disappointment. If you want a really smooth effect (and if your petals have very little moisture in them), try drying them between sheets of wax paper.

If you’re missing a few accent items, head out to the craft shop. Ribbon, dried flowers, buttons and pins can help embellish your handcrafted cards. You might even pick up some specialty paper while you’re there (or try your hand at making your own at home). Quality cards and envelopes come in a variety of sizes and colors. For a sophisticated look, try the cream-colored ones that are 5¼ by 7¼ inches and have a deckle edge. If you use coated color paper, cut it to fit invitation envelopes for quick, small cards.

Now it’s time for the creative fun: Start your cards by doing some practice designs – laying your flowers and leaves down on the paper until you get a design you like. And be innovative! Ground coffee, for example, can make a nice “center” for sunflowers, while a fancy button adds a bit of whimsy. With a little creativity, you can tailor any design by sketching in something really personal, from a boy’s beloved bicycle to a girl’s soccer ball or just a scene from nature itself. Make your cards holiday specific, for birthdays, as invitations, as thank you notes or just for fun!

When you’re happy with your design, wield the household glue or tacky glue sparingly. (Try using a flat stick or toothpick as a spreader for precision work.) Sometimes it helps to let your work dry before continuing with your design. For instance, once you’ve glued down the petals for a flower, you might want to wait before setting the center and stem so the petals don’t get shifted around.

Once your creation is complete, sit back and study your work of art. Does it feel like something’s still missing? You can always play with your design once the glue is dry: Try highlighting areas with glitter or make a flat bow from ribbon and glue it on. Use colored pencils or pens to draw in any details.

Let your card dry thoroughly before you write inside it, and cover your design with a thin, transparent sheet of paper for protection before mailing so it’s sure to arrive intact.

Greeting cards from Mother Nature are a wonderful way to reach out and share the beauty and joy of your garden. And in today’s hustle-bustle world, they’re another way to stay connected – to each other, as well as to the world around us.