we like it wild: fall collection board

After a few weeks of unusually high temperatures for this month, we are finally feeling autumn in northern California. Always inspired by the wild plants that cover the roadside and hills, we thought we’d bring some fall inside by making a collection board. We took the dogs and collected bits of weeds from our overgrown backyard and a hillside behind our house. Though most of the plants we came across had finished blooming for the season, their new fall colors and interesting structures gave them a second wind. We are always amazed to see the evolution of the beginning of a green shoot in the spring to a flower in summer and a seed pod in the fall.

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One of our favorite parts of putting together a collection board is identifying our specimens. Amateur botany can be really fun if you have a little guide that illustrates different weed structures and helps you put names to “faces.” Discovering, collecting and labeling is also a great activity to do with kids (just avoid sharp barbs, thorns and poisonous leaves).

Collection Board Materials

  • 18” x 24” corkboard
  • staple gun
  • 22” x 28” piece of quilt batting
  • 22” x 28” piece of canvas fabric or burlap
  • T-pins (available at the fabric store)
  • fall specimens


1. We started our project with an old, unused corkboard. Lay the piece of canvas on the table (it helps to have it ironed and smooth), then lay the quilt batting on top of the canvas. Place the corkboard (cork side down) on top of the batting.

2. Start from the middle of one of the long edges and staple (like stretching a canvas, if you’ve ever done that). If your board has a backing, you can staple into that, but if it is double-sided cork, you’ll need to staple into the wood edge of the frame. Stretch tight across and continue stapling out from the middle until you reach the ends. Repeat on the shorter sides. Fold each of the corners up and staple. If the edges stick up too much just run a strip of heavy tape along the edge to hold it down.

3. Next, arrange your specimens on the board. You can use weeds you collect, small gourds, pine cones, nuts, rocks or anything else that inspires you.

4. Try to vary the way you arrange the items like we did below to make the display more interesting:

  • Open up a tiny pod and show off the pretty black seeds. It is sometimes easier to glue delicate items to the board instead of pinning.
  • Try cutting the round heads off of pods and display them without their stems.
  • Make tiny bundles of delicate stems and bind with string or twine.
  • Display a flower and its seeds next to each other in tiny bottles and attach to the board with twine and a pin.

5. Place and pin!

Have fun and enjoy fall!

Karen E

Great post! It’s so refreshing to see design ideas that have nothing to do with commerce, spending, and the waste stream. I can almost taste that Northern California fall air.


Beautiful! I love living in NorCal – love the colors and seeing all your happy dogs. Is that near the headlands?


I love this…going to take my 9 year old hiking and make one for ourselves!!! I also love the fact that it is free, natural and doesn’t involve shopping. I am getting a little soured by all of the design blogs promoting products…ie stuff! Nature is so much more awe inspiring! Thanks this was the sweetest one yet and love the sweater!!!


I love your sweater! And your dog’s sweater! I can’t wait to wear a sweater and go out hunting for fall weeds! Unfortunately, here in Tennessee, it’s still to hot to wear a sweater like that, and most of our plants are still green:(


I love this post. When I was very young, we would spend our time after school – until dark – in the fields collecting weeds for dried arrangements. This brought back those memories.


I’d also love to know what kind of doggies you have – my Betsy has a similar coat to the b&w ones!

Looks like you picked a wonderful way to spend the day!


alethea’s awesome sweater is from h&m! the outdoor photos were taken in the hills of pacifica. and the 2 big dogs are both cattledog mixes- they are adopted so we are not completely sure what they are. we were told the littler guy was a corgi mix.


Lovely idea as always. I did a mini version of this with my little ones. Instead of pinning the specimens, we used light sensitive paper and transferred the shapes of fall leaves and grasses.


wonderful eye on detail, beautiful cattledogs too (my fave). Reminds me of my daughter’s insect collection from college.


you guys always have my favorite posts here, and this time is no exception! as a girl here in the bay area i used to collect things just like you and seeing your board is inspiring and also brings back sweet memories! my house is still filled with pinecones and rattlesnake grass.


OMG- i just love this post.. and that last shot is amazing! we like it wild is a favorite inspiration <3

Alicia Lee Wade

Great Post. I’m happy I’m not the only person exploring the natural treasures of the earth and documenting it. it’s inexpensive and fun to make postcards of these type of collections too. And oh my what a great idea for poster prints !

Christina W

I love the puppies! I am an owner of a Blue Heeler named Roxy. The post is great but the dogs make the whole thing!

Miriam Karp

Does anyone out that have a good (preferably non-toxic) spray to recommend so that the twigs and pods don’t disintegrate in a few months? Or get eaten by little bugs?

I have a blue healer cattle dog that looks very much like your mix, but longer legs. What a cutie!

Barb-Harmony Art Mom

We are working on a winter weeds project and this is perfect! We live in N CA too but in the foothills of the Sierra.

Thanks so much for the wonderful post and I will be linking later this week in my Winter Weed blog entry!

mike sulavin

what are the thing that have a stick and a pine cone thing
on top with thorns