Pressing flowers is something we have probably all done as children. I can remember pressing four-leaf clover leaves between the pages of books when I was a child, and sometimes I still come across them, brittle and faded, as I look through an old book.
Most flowers and leaves are suitable for pressing, with the exception of those with bulky centres, or leaves which are very fleshy, such as succulents. Succulent leaves tend to just squash when placed in the press. Odd shaped flowers such as daffodils need to be cut in half and opened out before pressing, and thick flowers such as Chrysanthemums need to have the calyx reduced in thickness (don’t take off too much, or the flower will disintegrate). Single petals can also be used, and reassembled when making your picture. Cut the flowers and foliage you want to press when the weather is dry. Any water trapped in the flowers before pressing will turn them mouldy. You can buy commercially made flower presses, which are effective for a small amount of flowers, but if you wanted to do a lot of pressing, you would be better off making your own press from two pieces of plywood, about 2 or 3 feet square, with four holes drilled in the corners. You will need four coach bolts with wing nuts for tightening the press. Small commercially made presses, such as those sold for children, often have layers of blotting paper, alternating with layers of corrugated cardboard. Discard the corrugated cardboard straight away, as this leaves lines across your flowers, rendering them useless. Substitute it with plain cardboard. If using a home-made press, you will need layers of blotting paper, interspersed with thick layers of newspaper.
Once you have cut your flowers and foliage, you will need to begin at the bottom layer of your press. You will need several thickness of newspaper, then a layer of blotting paper. Place your flowers onto the blotting paper so that they are not touching each other. Always use flowers of the same thickness in each layer, so that they press evenly. Cover the flowers with another layer of blotting paper, then several more layers of newspaper. Keep doing this until you have finished all your flowers. Finally, add the top of the press, and tighten the bolts. After a few days, tighten the bolts again, as the flowers shrink as they dry. Flowers can take between one and three weeks to dry.
There’s no list of plants suitable for pressing, as most flowers and foliages can be pressed, with those exceptions stated at the beginning of this section.
|About the Author
Chrissie Harten lives in Redditch, Worcestershire, England, with her husband, and her cute dog Toby. Gardening is her passion, and Chrissie loves to describe herself as a plantaholic. When she is not in her garden, Chrissie teaches Flower Arrangements and plays the Saxophone. She is the Secretary and Internet Officer of Bromsgrove and District Flower Arrangement Society, which is affiliated to NAFAS.