Beauty through Everlasting Flowers Drying Ferns and Flowers for Winter Decorations
All of these beautiful flowers can be dried, so that one can appreciate the beauty, even after they have been plucked from their stalks. So can their seedpods and foliage.
Drying plants, ferns, herbs, and flowers for use in the future or just for decoration in the house, when they are not in season, has been en vogue for centuries, all over the world, wherever there was a thinking man existing who wanted to take advantage of something, which could be utilized in the future when that particular plant was not in season.
And so in order to keep the beauty of flowers, along came the idea of drying these plants and to a large number of experimentations, over a large number of years, using many different mediums. More and more people began to learn that yes, it was easy for you to dry plans, as well as flowers in a natural manner, and have them ready within a couple of days or weeks to be preserved permanently, in a dried state.
There are plenty of methods, with which you can dry plants and flowers, and this book is going to tell you all about easily done traditional methods, which were followed in the 19th century, by ladies who did not want to spend lots of money in buying expensive equipment or getting over laden with chemicals in order to do some natural enjoyable activities like drying ferns and flowers.
And after that, these are used in winter decorations, in their houses, where they were placed in glass containers and jars, like had been done in millions of houses, down the centuries by other house proud housewives.
Some of these plants were called everlastings or immortelles. Helichrysums were given the name of everlastings, because even after drying, they kept their golden pretty color. The immortelles belong to the daisy Asteraceae family.
A little bit of experimentation is going to be necessary, depending on where you live, and the amount of flowers and the varieties you get there. Everlastings are normally cut, when they are still in Bud form or before they have reached their full maturity stage. They are then placed upside down, in any area, where you do not have direct or bright sunlight, so that they can dry naturally.
White Sand Drying
This is when you have to be very careful about the nature of the flowers. If the inflorescence is too heavy, it is better to dry them in the air. Especially, when they belong to the compositae or Aster family and you may find the petals coming out in bunches, after the flowers have dried and lost their moisture content.
Nevertheless, sand drying is among the most popular of methods, used to dry flowers, for ages. This is an activity, which can be done even by a child, and we used to do this as a school project, collecting shoeboxes, and if we had anybody who had some interests in carpentry, we requested them to make wooden boxes, about 15 inches in width, and 2 feet in length. The depth was just about 3 ½ inches, which meant that we could put our tiny hands into the sand, and scoop up the flowers, whenever we wished.
The box did not have a bottom made out of wooden planks or sheets. Instead, a piece of wire netting, or gauze was fixed about an inch away and above the box’s bottom so that nothing touched the wooden or metal shelf or board, on which one would place our white sand drying box.
Dried roses have been an age-old source of pot pourri, especially when it is mixed up with other flowers, with a sweet smell like jasmine, lavender, etc. and to which some dried orange peel and Orris root have been added.
Stearin is actually a number of different fatty acids, the granules of which is used extensively in making wax candles. With this stearin coating sand, there was no way in which any of the petals would stick onto the sand particles and vice versa.
People have forgotten this particular trick, so here it is again. They do the drying, and then brush off the sand particles with a camel’s hair brush. But if you intend to do lots of drying of your flowers in the future, keep some stearin ready. You can get the granules in craft shops.
The box is then placed on a shelf, where you want your flowers to dry. If it is in a bright and sunny place, so much the better, because that means your flowers are going to dry out faster.
Drying of Ferns
Ferns are very easy to dry, especially when you are doing it in the traditional way, putting the fronds between the sheets of newspapers or any sort of paper which is really absorbent as in old telephone directories.
Ferns as well as Selaginellas are capable of keeping their color, even in their dried form. However, if they have been trying for a long long time, you may find them turning just this little bit brown at the edges.
In Victorian times, ladies made very pretty picture screens to protect themselves from droughts, or used just as decorations, as well as window adornments by taking two sheets of thin and clear glass. The frond was placed between the glasses, and a mucilage which was clear and thin, or natural adhesive like isinglass was used to stick the two sheets together.
“Silver ferns” and “gold ferns” belonging to the gymnogramma and Cheilanthes species are also very attractive specimens, especially when they are mixed up with ordinary green fern fronds and ornamental grasses.
If you are making winter bouquets, or just some colorful embellishments to brighten up a room, you can make up your own combination of dried flowers, with dried grasses, Selaginella sprays, foliage, found in the autumn, skeletonized leaves, and seedpods.
If you have bleached the leaves, and the seedpods, they are going to contrast pleasantly among the natural colors of your winter decorations, including the green of the ferns, and the different colors of the flowers, especially if you have some of them fresh and some of them dry.The best thing about dried flowers is, once you know how to handle them, with a bit of experience, you can use them again and again in different arrangements, whenever you want. You can use them in wreaths and in ornamental decorations in your rooms.
You just need to make sure, that your arrangements are not so crowded as to distract from the beauty of the individual plants. I have a relative, who spends most of her time drying all these flowers and leaves, which she collects from her rather large garden, and from her regular weekend visits to the woods nearby.
The only problem is that once she has all these leaves skeletonized, or dried, and the flowers, ready at hand, she really does not know what to do with them. So she fills up a large number of containers, all over the house, with all these items, just placed there, willy-nilly, crowded, and sometimes she gets so sick and tired of all those grasses, which she collected so many years ago and did not bother to dust, that she just picks up a handful out of a vase, uses the excuse of pollen, asthma, and breathing problems, and throws them out!
If only she had a little bit of creativity, or even some aesthetic sense, she could have made them into winter decorations, bouquets, by mounting the flowers on florist wires, and arranging them into pleasant combinations. After that, she could place them in a nice setting of terra-cotta, wood, crystal, and cover them with a glass shade to keep the dust away. These bouquets, and floral combinations are thus going to last, for years and years.
I remember the last time I visited her. I came, I saw, I took a deep breath, and I started to sneeze. The air was full of fine grass and reeds – those ornamental reeds, which are so prolific, next to any water source, and in which ducks, mallards, and other birds and animals, love to make their nests and homes – particles, which were just flying about in the atmosphere, in handfuls.
When I finally stopped sneezing, I asked her, how come the atmosphere was so full of dust, and fine hairs? She said that she had broken her protective glass bell jar, – this is an occupational hazard with delicate and clear glass items, and that is why I never ever use crystal – and she did not want to get rid of all those grasses, because they had such memories connected to them. And so she did not mind a little bit of sneezing occasionally, whenever she entered the sitting room.
Memories may be made up of this, but sometimes, one can go a bit overboard in matters of sentiment. So be practical, and remember, that these activities are for amusement, to keep your self busy, during the winter, to give you a brand new interest in traditional activities, coming down through the ages, and best of all keeping the whole family busy, including the kids, and possibly starting up their future career as well known botanists when they grow up!
Live Long and Prosper.