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Oct 26, 2009

Press Flowers and Leaves

Preparing your favorite flowers, weeds or grass for pressing is not difficult. Once pressed correctly, they can be used on note cards, pictures, bookmarks, or anything that would look nice if decorated. Removing the moisture is the most important thing.

1. Collect plants when they are dry, but preferably before the heat of the day has wilted them. Usually you only want the flower, not the stem, but you will want to gather some foliage. Some root systems are neat and useful.
2. Flatten flowers - even remove the petals from a thick center core. Press some foliage at the same time so you can have a record (even if you don't use the foliage). Press flat with fingers if necessary.
3. Pansies and violas are particularly easy to press and tend to hold color. If in the field (as on a road trip), use any absorbent paper directory (like the ones you can get which advertise rental/sale properties). Ask the motel/hotel for a Yellow Pages phone book. When you get home, you can transfer to a large phone book. Adding weight on top helps flatten.
4. Spread pages and insert a folded facial tissue. Place petals/flowers inside the fold. Close the pages, skip a few and repeat. The tissue makes it easy to transfer...
5. Transfer tissue containing the flower to another book. The idea is to remove moisture from the plant.After the third transfer, leave it alone until it is completely dry.
6. Remove from tissue and place on acid free paper (my computer paper supplier tells me that all of their paper is now acid free). There are pens that you can buy to test acidity (probably less than $10).

You probably can get a Yellow Pages from the motel/hotel...ask, don't just take. Yellow Page books are sometimes set out at drug/grocery stores. If you get hooked, you will need quite a few. If you can't get a phone book, using a big Merriam Webster Ditionary will help. Don't pick too many flowers at one time.... they take a while to process. Make a note of the name of the flower, and the time and place you got it. You can do this on the tissue, then paper. Leaves can be dried in the same manner. Don't expect their color to hold. Maple leaves are great, as are ginkgo's that are picked when golden in the fall. White flowers may not be your best choice. A skewer can be helpful in placing your flower or petals. If you pick a pansy and place it face down on paper or plastic, it will shrink. Then you can press it. It will hold its color and provide variety. Violas make very tiny flowers, which are especially good for miniature pictures. Don't just pull or pick something and toss it in a phone book. You've wasted your time. If you haven't got a flower presser you can use a heavy book.

Many flower growers are glad to share, but don't pick without asking. (If you gather many flowers from someone, consider making a card or bookmark for them.) Watch your step. Fire ants can sting in a hurry. Never collect from State or National Parks, or even local garden parks. It's illegal. Be aware of the flowers you're picking! Native wildflowers are great, but many might be endangered or threatened, or live in fragile habitats. Some are protected by law in many countries (such as the California Golden Poppy or the Canberra Bluebell) and you can be slapped with a fine if you are caught picking them.If you don't know the leaf or flowers, beware....some can sting you, and some are poisonous. Remember the rule of thumb for Poison Oak and Poison Ivy: Leaves of three, let it be.

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