Make the most of your blooms by preserving them
Taking cuttings of your garden flowers to dry and display is a great way to remember the colour and beauty of summer all year round. You may even have recently had a special occasion, and wish to preserve the floral memories from that day. All too often, the blooms can seem ever so short-lived, and doesn’t it seem like a shame to let them fade?
The good news is, drying flowers is really simple. Some flowers dry more readily than others, and some types will keep hold of their colour better – although a bit of a loss of vibrancy is to be expected as the petals lose their moisture. In this article, I’ll talk you through how to prepare your flowers for drying, what methods you can use, and which flowers give the best results.
How to cut flowers for drying
It’s best to cut your flowers for drying when the buds are just starting to open – this will ensure the brightest colour. Cutting your flowers on a dry day will mean there is less excess moisture on the petals and leaves. It’s a good idea to remove any excess greenery from stems – but if you like the look of the leaves, feel free to leave a few intact. If you’re drying your flowers in bunches, tie them together at the stem in an arrangement that takes your fancy.
Air drying your flowers
Air drying flowers is extremely simple, and gives a long-lasting result. You’ll need to find a dark and reasonably warm location, such as a cupboard or spacious wardrobe (light will cause the colours to fade). Just hang the blooms upside down, either individually or bunched together in your chosen arrangement, and leave them for three to four weeks. Bear in mind that your dried flowers will be more delicate than when they’re fresh, so make sure to proudly display them somewhere they won’t be disturbed or be subject to too much moisture, direct light or wind. An arrangement looks wonderful in a favourite vase or mounted on the wall.
A tip for a bit of extra protection: spritz flowers with unscented hairspray after drying, which acts as a gentle preservative.
Pressing your flowers
Pressing is a great way to preserve blooms in a way that doesn’t take up very much space. This works best with small and delicate flowers, ideally with a flat face rather than globe-shaped. Special equipment like flower presses do exist, but you don’t need anything fancy – two heavy books will do the trick!
Again, prepare your flower by making sure it’s not wet from the rain, and remove any excess greenery. Place some parchment paper on top of, or inside, your book and place the flowers face-down on top, arranging them how you please and securing with a little masking tape if you like. Carefully add another layer of parchment, and place another heavy book on top so that it’s pressed totally flat. You can stack more books or heavy items on top if you like. Leave them pressing for 3-4 weeks, and then check them. If they don’t yet feel dry and papery, replace the parchment paper and press again for another week or so. Pressed flowers look beautiful when placed in a glass frame.
The best flowers for drying
Roses dry really nicely, and their beautiful shape and pretty foliage will stand the test of time.
The delicate sprays of plants like yarrow, love-in-a-mist and some ornamental grasses will add lots of soft dimension and shape to your selection.
For a bit of drama, try drying hydrangeas, cockscomb, globe thistle or salvia.
Herbs like lavender and rosemary dry really well, and add lovely structure to an arrangement.
Happy flower drying! Katie x