By Michael Jenkins
Having a garden can be a wonderful way to bring color and joy into your life. Flowers and color foliage are more than just decoration; they add vibrancy and energy to both outdoor and indoor spaces. So whether you have a vast landscaped lawn or a few well-tended containers, you may want to look at ways in which to preserve the blooms and blossoms of your summer garden. Fortunately, your options for doing so go beyond taking photographs—let’s face it, pics never capture the beauty of home-grown flowers anyway! The method you use to preserve your garden flowers is a matter of preference, depending mostly on how you’d like to present them later on. Let’s take a closer look at some ways of preserving garden flowers all year long.
The first and perhaps easiest option for preserving your garden flowers is air drying. While many different kinds of flowers and foliage can be air dried, this method generally works best with more robust flowers such as roses, marigolds, daisies, lavender, baby’s breath, and cone-flower. The method is simple and goes something like this:
- Gather flowers just before you intend to dry them, if possible. Flowers for drying are best gathered when dew, rain, and other outside moisture have evaporated away. However, avoid the heat of the day for best results—flowers should be gathered during the cooler hours of morning and evening.
- Remove excess foliage from the flowers and stems, and cut stems to the desired length.
- Hang flowers or bouquets upside down in a dark, dry, airy place. Keeping them away from light will help preserve color, while dry air and good ventilation will help with the drying process.
- The drying process will take two to three weeks. While you should check on your flowers regularly during that time, try to avoid disturbing them unduly. Once a day is enough!
- Once dried, take down the flowers and spray them with a clear, unscented hairspray to protect and preserve them.
Drying flowers in this manner is a popular and easy way to preserve them, and it’s especially useful for arrangements of flowers like a wedding bouquet. Flowers dried with this method will last for years to come if treated carefully and kept cool, dry, and out of the sun or other bright light.
Another easy way to preserve flowers is by drying them in sand. Fine, clean sand is a wonderful way to preserve garden flowers, but it has some limitations. Sand is heavy, and thus best used for sturdier flowers and foliage. With that in mind, here’s how to do it:
- Pour a half-inch/just over a centimeter of sand into a sturdy container. Make sure the container is sand-proof to prevent a mess!
- Lay the flowers, foliage, or stems onto the bed of sand.
- Carefully pour sand all around the flowers and foliage, making sure all parts are covered and in contact with the sand. This is essential for the drying process, otherwise it won’t work well.
- Allow two weeks to dry, then carefully uncover and remove flowers and foliage from the sand.
- Gently shake or remove remaining sand, and preserve with unscented hair spray as with dried flowers.
Sand preservation is a bit more involved than air drying, but for sturdier or hardier flowers and foliage, it allows for better results and a more controlled drying environment.
Finally, pressing flowers is another classic method of flower preservation, and a fun way to remember your garden’s past seasons. Like air drying and sand drying, pressing flowers is fairly easy if you follow some simple steps:
- Either remove unwanted leaves, or separate flowers and leaves and press them independently.
- Place the flowers and foliage to be persevered on a piece of parchment paper. Make sure to place the flowers with the blooms facing down onto the parchment.
- Place the flowers and parchment paper between two pieces of absorbent paper. Good absorbent paper might be card stock or watercolor paper, both of which you can find at most art supply shops or hobby stores.
- Place the paper and flowers between two heavy weights that cover them completely. Books work well, especially heavy books like dictionaries. Keep the whole setup horizontal while drying.
- Place the books/flowers/paper in a safe place for three to four weeks. Refrain from disturbing during the drying process.
- When dry, you can display pressed flowers and foliage in a frame, scrapbook, or another craft-y place. You can also preserve and protect with unscented hairspray, just like air dried or sand dried flowers.
While there are a number of other ways to preserve your garden’s blossoms, these are some of the easiest and we hope they inspire you to try this for yourselves. Preserving your flowers is a wonderful way to hold onto the color and vibrancy of summer all year long. Let us know if you try some of these techniques, and how they turn out for you!