If you have never pressed flowers before oh my word, then please, please try now. I suppose it’s a bit like the advice given when someone asks when is the best time to plant a tree – to which the answer is 40 years ago or today. The same advice can be given about pressing flowers, if you didn’t start 40 years ago then let’s start now.
It is so rewarding; looking at the plants, handling them, respecting them and framing them are all wonderful ways to connect with nature. I have been pressing flowers and plants for years and I always have a little aspiration inside of me that, when the time is right, I would be able to turn this hobby into a small business - I would love to sell beautiful framed botanical specimens that would adorn the walls – like a fine piece of art or a painting. The Victorians took it to another level – have you ever seen the dried specimen fern leaves pressed, dried and framed? - they are so beautiful.
It is so simple to do – the easiest and quickest way is to harvest your flower or plant material (remember from previous blogs how important it is to approach the plant, telling silently of your intent, of how you wish to bring the plant into your life and leaving a little gift) on a dry day with no moisture on the plant. Then bring it indoors and cut some old newspaper so that the plant sample sits on this, then cut another piece of old newspaper and place on top of the plant – just like a sandwich. Then find the biggest, heaviest book and place this newspaper/flower sandwich in the middle of the book, closing tightly and either put the book back in the bookshelf(remembering where you have put it – a bit like a squirrel burying its nuts underground, try and remember the book!) or put it at the bottom of a pile of others books. Come back to it in two weeks and, hey presto, you will have the most beautiful example of a pressed flower to keep for as long as you wish.
If you get addicted to it, like me, you will start to buy proper flower presses, which, rather than the book method, have screws which tighten down at the corners – you still place your flower in a newspaper sandwich and then place cardboard on top of this, add layers onto it so you can have many flowers in one press. I have quite a collection of flower presses but my favourite is a huge old ex-military travel trouser press which is enormous and means I can press and dry large full plants.
Why would you press these flowers I hear you say – well there are so many ways to use them – I love having them framed as specimen examples, but the easiest and best way is to stick them onto cards for loved ones to send a message, birthday cards, book markers etc, and so many more ways. One of the best examples I have made was a year diary of flowers that I would harvest every month and turn them into a journal as a record of the wild and grown flowers here at the Secret Herb Garden. I did this with my middle daughter two years ago and it was a wonderful way to introduce her to the flowers, seasons and their absolute beauty. I say to children all the time that I am sure they will travel the world and see the most amazing sights but sometimes the most amazing sights are those that are already growing at your very feet – stop, look, pick up the tiny flower of a chickweed (they are like little white stars in the middle of a green sky), forget me not, veronica speedwell, eyebright – look closely and be in awe of the universe in all her detail. I actually have one of those eye magnifiers that jewellers use so I can see the amazing detail of any of these flowers. By pressing them and keeping them you are keeping them closer to your heart.
Lastly, some people may think it unkind to pick these flowers to dry but I say that nature is here for us to interact with, share, become part of – the plants will sing and rejoice in the fact that you are noticing them, falling in love with them and bringing them into your life.
Give a handmade gift from nature like this and watch how they will touch the very soul of the receiver.