Drying fresh flowers

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by Linda Davis

azfamily.com

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 2:11 PM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 22 at 12:47 PM

I love receiving a gift of flowers. It's one of those gifts that make you feel great each time you look at them. The only downside is that they fade away so quickly.

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I remember that drying flowers was a big thing when I was a teenager. We pressed every bloom ever given in a book to keep for eternity. Didn't matter if it was a handpicked wildflower or a fancy rose - we kept them. But, we also had the times when instead of pulling out a pretty flattened version of our floral memory, we had one of a number of surprises from mold to an odd shaped pancake of a thing.

So as we approach some of the biggest floral gifting holidays - like Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Easter corsages I wanted to learn how to best preserve the beauty. I found there are three key ways and it basically depends how you want to save and use your dried bloom.

The Flattened Method

This is what I used to always do. But the outcome limits you to keeping it in a book for the rest of its time. Because it's flat - downright smooshed. I must say though that I enjoy picking up a book and finding a memory staring at me. A very unexpected thing that tosses a surprise at you when least expected.

Yet, I did find the perfect tool at a craft store that makes preserving flat flowers really easy. Found it at Michael's for about $10 - a flower press that includes everything you need and really does make it easy.

My son, Mike was wonderful about picking little wildflowers and bringing them home tome - those are the flowers I treasure most and want to preserve. This did the trick.

Now if you want a "whole" three-dimensional floral keepsake you have a couple of options.

The Burying Method

You'll need to purchase a product like Silica Sand that you can find at craft stores. Look for a fresh flower drying agent. It's specifically made to dry flowers. This method is a little tedious because as you bury the flower and check it periodically for " dryness" you'll have to recover them if they're not done. But this does tend to keep the color richer if you have the patience.

You can also use these in the microwave for really fast drying. But when I tested it, it worked but I had to unbury and rebury the flower about 4 times to check for dryness - a bit of a hassle - but it was fast.

I do like the idea of using this method (traditional way, not in the microwave) for those really special flowers like the particular rose given to you for a special occasion or like me, that sweet wildflower picked just for me by a certain 12-year-old boy.

The Upside Down Method

I actually loved learning this method. Why? Because I think it looks very organic and I do dream of a beautiful French Country room loaded with drying flowers. It's easy, just tie your flowers together with string or even ribbon and hang upside down.

But you must know two things - DRY and DARK. That's what makes this successful. Maybe it's a closet or a pantry or laundry room. Just hang them and wait for them to dry.

Some flowers like Hydrangeas can also be dried upright in a vase. Just let the water completely evaporate and let the natural flower dry. Again, remember DRY and DARK.

Roses don't work well with this method because as they dry they droop over from the top of the stem. Go with hanging or the Silica drying agents.

This was fun to try. I especially liked the hanging flowers around my house - very French Country. Plus, as the dried I loved thinking about the wreaths and more that I could make with them. But most of all, I liked the idea of extending the memory of those really special flowers.

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