The art of preserving flowers has its roots in ancient history but has recently enjoyed something of a revival. With an ever-increasing number of people becoming more sentimental about the flowers they receive, preserving flowers offers a wonderful way to keep a lasting memento of a special occasion or gift.
For many preserving flowers is a rewarding experience because it is relatively easy and inexpensive to do, the flowers usually dry remarkably well and they can last for many years. There are three widely practiced methods of preserving flowers including air drying, pressing or using various drying agents including glycerine.
Air drying is perhaps the easiest and best method for preserving flowers and simply requires you to strip the leaves off the flowers, tie them together with string and hang them upside down in a warm, dark and dry place. The ideal place to do this is in a wardrobe or pantry and the process can take between one to two weeks depending on the flower’s moisture content.
Some flowers should be picked for air drying in the bud stage, or partially opened, as they will continue to open while drying. Others must be picked when they are fully mature.
Suggested flowers to air dry include: statice, hydrangeas, celosia, gypsophila, roses and lavender.
Pressing is a very easy way to preserve flowers and many will be familiar with this method from their childhood.
The best way to press flowers is by arranging them carefully between several thicknesses of newspaper, then covering them with a board pressed down by a heavy object. This process can take anywhere up to four weeks to complete, depending on the size of the flowers and their tissue content.
Flowers to press include: chrysanthemums, roses, violets, daisies, lily-of-the-valley, poppies and sweet peas.
Glycerine is a chemical which preserves flowers and foliage by replacing the water in the plant material, making the preserved article supple and long-lasting.
This method of preserving is arguably more suitable for foliage than flowers, but certain flowers such as hydrangea, gypsophila and bells of Ireland will glycerine well and produce some lovely results.
To use this method, mix two parts of water to one part glycerine and place the stem of the flower into the mixture. By using warm water you will ensure better mixing and a faster rate of absorption.
Where leaves only are used, they should be submerged completely in the glycerine-water solution. The time required for completing the preservation process varies, but expect two to perhaps three weeks before the glycerine solution reaches the leaf tips.
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