Pam Martin from the Kansas Wetlands and Education Center entertained 11 members of Great Bend Garden Club with a program on dried flowers. Martin showed how to preserve flowers and then create lovely designs by arranging them into card pictures for framing.
Beginning with a brief history of the art, she explained that dried flower arrangements have been found dating back 3,000 years to Greek and Roman times. Botanists such as Charles Darwin dried flowers they discovered on their journeys seeking new special of plants. The Victorians took the art to a new level.
Today there are books, such as Penny Black’s “The Complete Book of Pressed Flowers,” which contain beautiful illustrations of dried flower arrangements.
The method of drying and pressing flowers that Martin uses today requires a press which can be either commercially purchased or homemade. She displayed two homemade ones. One was made of two square pieces of wood, two equal-sized pieces of corrugated cardboard, and blotter paper between which the flowers are placed and held tightly together with rubber bands. The other was made of two pieces of Masonite with six layers of acid-free newsprint holding the flowers. This second type can be used in a microwave oven to hasten the drying process, but must be carefully monitored.
Many species of flowers, leaves and herbs can be dried. Recommended ones include: many wild flowers, pansies, violets, red and blue salvia, lantana, columbine, dill flowers, yarrow foliage, pineapple sage, parsley, and rose leaves. Other leaves can be dried until all that is left are the skeletal veins which provide a lacy background to some beautiful arrangements. It is recommended to pick flowers for drying in the early morning after the dew has evaporated.
Supplies needed to arrange the pressed plants include nice paper (card stock works well), a glue called Perfect Paper Adhesive (must be ordered on line), tweezers (blunt-ended ones work best), and toothpicks. The design should be planned first (there are patterns) then plants are carefully held in tweezers, lightly but firmly placed on paper with glue using toothpicks, building layers as you go. The finished product should be put in a frame with glass.
The members each were given the materials to make their own pressed flower card and many beautiful designs were the result.
Garden Club member Becky Dudrey arranged for Martin’s program.
The next meeting of Garden Club will be at 10 a.m. on April 19 in the Meeting Room of the Barton County Extension Office. Nancy Swafford will have the program and Delores Gross will be the hostess. Everyone who enjoys gardens or working in them is invited to attend the meetings which are held during the months from September to May.