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It’s the middle of summer. You’re looking at your garden and feeling a bit protective. Here you’ve spent months tending, weeding, watering. and everything looks and smells wonderful. Yet, in just a few short weeks all this beauty begins to fade. How can gardeners bring a little of their outdoors, indoors to enjoy year round? Preserving flowers is one good option.

Let’s look at various methods of doing just that. Roses, snapdragons, and even tulips can be dried in sand. To begin, you want to harvest your flowers relatively early in the morning. They should be dry from the night before, but if left out in the hot sun too long the results decrease. By the way, sand drying isn’t a good choice for geraniums and violets.

Remove most of the stem, leaving just enough to help secure the shape of the flower when drying. Before proceeding, your flowers will stay together much longer if you add a little bit of glue on each flower petal near the base. You don’t be able to see this, but it definitely increases longevity of your dried piece.

Now, take a large wooden box and fill the bottom with clean white sand. Put the first layer of flowers in with the base down. Gently add more sand until the flower is covered completely, making sure to get a few grains between petals. You may now add another level of flowers if you wish. It will take about a month (sometimes less) to dry these flowers completely. Try to keep the box in a cool, dry area for the best residual coloration.

A second approach to preservation is the tried-and-true method of air-drying. For people working with herbs this seems to be the preferred method. You still want to gather flowers before the noon sun hits. Tie bundles of the flowers/herbs together In something no bigger than a nosegay, then hang them from a clothes line to dry – stem end up (flowers toward the ground). These also take about a month to dry completely.

The third approach for preserving is also a rather romantic one – namely pressing flowers. There’s nothing that brings a smile quite like a little petal neatly pressed and left in a book as a memory. However, if you’re not keen on having any stains in beloved books, you can successfully press flowers using newspaper or old phone books. Start by putting your chosen petals on a page so that they’re not touching.

Leave about 5-10 pages of paper between each set of plants to absorb moisture. Now, put something heavy on the stack or phone book. Note: if using a phone book I’ve found that turning it once a week so it receives equal pressure from both sides improves the results. And, as with the other two methods your flowers will be ready in about a month.


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