I think of my leaf castings as a kind of “second nature.” Nature is the original artist, and it is my hope simply to preserve and embellish. This work is also my second nature; anyone who knows me can tell you that I have long loved leaves, their infinite shapes and colors, their functions and beauty.

With a full-time career in medical/technical writing, I have found that working in this surprising medium provides me with great pleasure. A few years ago, I attended a workshop with friends to learn how to make concrete leaves. These castings, each a unique piece using a freshly picked leaf, have since become my favorite leisure-time hobby . . . well, perhaps after gardening. In fact, one of the best gifts my husband has ever given me is an electric cement mixer! I now select new plants for my garden with an eye toward their possibilities for casting.

But it is after the leaves are cast and the concrete cured that the real fun begins: the painting! Using a broad palette of colors, from the natural to the fantastic, I find painting the leaves to be relaxing and creative and an opportunity to take chances. After being painted, each piece is then lightly sealed.

I have several of my favorite leaves installed in my garden. I place them to highlight the colors of the plants around them, or as sculptural elements on their own. Some are suitable for use as birdbaths or birdfeeders. Smaller leaves can be used inside to hold jewelry or a candle. Some are made with an embedded hook for hanging on a wall. I recommend bringing the leaves indoors during the coldest part of winter.

Please feel free to contact me at berigeraci@comcast.net if you are interested in purchasing a leaf or would like to commission one in special colors. Leaves I typically have available—depending on the time of year—include darmera peltata (Umbrella plant), gunnera manicata (Brazilian gunnera), hostas of several different varieties, rhubarb, witch hazel, and big-leaf maples. Smaller leaves are also available.