Preservation Experimentation

Friday 25th January 2019

To collect, print, photograph and all other means of documenting florals and nature, was my big aim for the year ahead. This is to be the start of my blog where I share with you my exploration into all things nature.

I really enjoy working with the changing seasons, making the most of what’s around me at the time. Winter is a spectacular time of year where you can appreciate what’s under the beautiful face of most shrubs and tree’s. We see the twisting stems of a Corylus avellane ‘Contorta’, or when the blood red leaves of a Euonymus alatus finally give in and fall away the cork ridged stems get their time in the limelight.

You can go out and appreciate these wonders in the woodland or hopefully in your own garden but sometimes when its feeling awfully cold I do miss the bright florals and dainty petals. When we have flowers in abundance during warmer times, why not keep some preserved in perfection for those rainy days. As the seed pods are in profusion and the ferns are turning golden brown, I think that the dried flowers sit more than comfortably in a winter arrangement. So now I’m going to share with you the beginnings of my preservation experimentation and create flowers which defy the seasons.

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Hang and Dry Method

For a long time now I have been saving all left over flowers, hanging them up and letting them dry with a prolific result. Using this very simple method you can save your birthday flowers and begin your own dried flora collection.

For smaller flowers you can hang them up in bunches and for a large rose, like in my examples below, I prefer to hang individually. Tie them with a wire or an elastic so that when the stems reduce during the drying process they wont fall free. Find yourself a small attic space, closet or darker area of the house to prepare your hanging garden. Plenty of air ventilation and making sure its on the warmer side are both useful tips to creating the perfect spot. If you hang your flowers in direct sunlight they are much more likely to fade ! Now that you have your area simply attach lengths of string across from wall to wall using hooks or nails and hang your flowers at intervals about a hands width apart. Usually the process takes a couple of weeks but they are ready when the stems and flower become rigid.

Below is a selection of my roses which I have photographed every few days for just over a fortnight.

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The hang and dry method works well with grasses, heathers, seed pods including Lunaria annua (honesty), herbs and Gypsophlia. Many other flowers sometimes appear too ridged, this isn’t helped by its tendency to point downwards as it is in the upside down position whilst drying.

The aim for preserving flowers is for the specimen to resemble the original characteristics it was given to us with. Which leads me to part 2 of my preservation experimentation.

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Kiln Dry Sand Method

For the flower to be held in its own unique form and structure, it needs to have support. This support should be evenly distributed and need to fall in between petals and into the smallest cavities. After much research and reading i’ve found that a number of drying mediums have been trialled and tested, from silica gel to sawdust. I’ve read in a fantastic preservation book from 1971 that sand is the best drying media, but not just any sand, ‘the best variety comes from the shores of Great Salt Lake in Utah’. I wont go into detail now but the general consensus is that sand is often jagged and even though miniscule, its tiny sharp edges could prick and damage the delicate petals. The sand from the salt lake however, is smooth and very absorbent! As I live in the UK and would like as many of you to try out preserving flowers for your own, I needed to come up with a local and more readily available media.

Kiln dry sand is a very clean, dry and fine sand, which means so far it fits my criteria! It should apply even pressure around the entire flower head whilst making its way into all its tiniest pockets. Below you can see I have filled containers with sand concealing my flowers, both up right and upside down (simply to see the difference) and now I must wait 2 weeks before I expose the preserved florals and see the outcome of my experiment!

 

Thank you for reading the first blog post of 2019, I hope you enjoyed it! If any of you have any of their own points and tips on flower preservation, or if you decide to give either of these methods a go, then I would love to hear about it!

Happy Flower Preserving !

Love Ash

 

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