Flower Pressing - 7 Favourite Flowers
I won’t try and pretend I’m anything but obsessed with pressing flowers. So this is a warning before you read any further! Flower pressing is a highly addictive activity that may eat into your flower beds, in-fact, your neighbours, friends, families and that man down the road you stop and ask for a few specimens! You wait and see, it will happen to you too!
Walking down the road on a gorgeous summery day past blooming gorgeous gardens will never be the same again!
In all seriousness I’ve had quite a lot of people asking questions about flower pressing so thought I’d put my favourites guide together (well my favourites so far!) I won’t profess that I’m any kind of expert but these are the results from my flower pressing experiments.
Single Layer Roses
An absolute English classic, the rose is a staple of so many gardens. However pressing traditional multi-layered roses is difficult. Distinctively having so many layers of compact petals they are prone to rotting and turning particularly ugly looking! If pressing chunky flowers I would advise a few layers of board in between each layer. This stops any moisture transferring to flowers on other layers and keeps flowers on other pages flat. Sometimes dissecting a section by cutting it in half or taking off the petals and pressing them separately offers better success.
However flowers from certain English rose bushes and some dog roses are an exception to the rule as they are small and single in petal layer making them perfect flower press material. Their very pretty heads offer a very elegant structure of petals, mix that with the knowledge that some are prolific repeat bloomers & you have the potential for a great source of flowers.
A name in the rose world to look our for is David Austin. He is the man responsible for world class breeds of roses across the world.
From his humble beginnings as a teenager with an unusual hobby in the 1950s, few would have guessed how far he would come. Now today his son and grandson have joined him in the family rose business.
My rose sample here from my garden I believe it is called ‘Kew Gardens’ an English shrub rose bred by David Austin. This rose was named in celebration of the 250th anniversary of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew in London.
Not all flowering stars from my press are grand, in-fact some come from quite humble beginnings like the cow parsley. Most often it’s commonly thought of and disregarded as nothing more than a weed that grows on roadsides verges, woodlands and in dark shady patches. Although those in the know are aware their leaves, flowers, stems and roots can be used in culinary and medicinal recipes.
How unexpected then that in their pressed form they offer a cobweb like beauty that’s more representative of their nickname of ‘Queen Anne’s Lace’.
It’s probably not something you will ever want to plant in your garden as the warm summer months will see it bloom out of control. However its easily found and identified in the wild by its fern like leaves and delicate tiny white flowers from as early as April through to June. These can seriously be foraged in their hundreds!! However I would say that being mindful not to remove too many of one specimen from an area is important for the preservation of a natural habitat.
Who can help but fall in love with their pretty little faces? The Victorians certainly did as they popularised flower pressing in the 19th century.
‘Three Faces Under A Hood’ is one of many nicknames they are known to have had which I think is just gorgeous and so fitting of their striking characteristics.
Pansies in my opinion are one of the easiest flowers to press as their structure is naturally flat faced. Pressing between blotting paper is key to making sure their faces don’t wrinkle up, like wise is not opening your press to early.
The best time for picking flowers is mid afternoon on a sunny day when any rain or dew has had chance to evaporate. Let them press for at least 3 weeks before taking a peep! If you have an excited child like me I feel your pain as they find it so challenging not to look. My advise is get a kids press or a book for them and a more substantial press or pile of books for yourself. Both do an equally good job! Vintage kids flower presses can commonly be picked up in charity shops. If you are looking for a large flower press I got a great one off Amazon at a very reasonable price. There are also many how to guides available online with instructions on how to effectively make a press from two pieces of strong ply board and four screws. Using blotting paper to lay your flowers on absorbs any moisture brilliantly but I also find that for more delicate plants with little moisture cheap sugar paper is equally as effective. Try to avoid tissue and kitchen roll as it leaves an unattractive pattern on the flowers.
Flower pressing using an iron or microwave have also become popular in recent years. My experience with these methods so far have been very unsuccessful and in my opinion don’t give very good results. It also makes me nervous as to what kind of fumes they are giving off even in an ventilated area. I may however try with other flowers in the future. But as I write I’m not converted!
No plants epitomizes vintage glamour quite like the show stopping hydrangeas.
Their names just make you want to get planting in your garden, the French Hydrangea, Lacecap Hydrangea, Pink Hydrangea & Blue Hydrangea. Their blooming great heads are made up of lots of individual flat flowers that are brilliant for flower pressing. When I see hydrangeas I just can’t help but feel excited, the graduation of the pastel colours in their petals are to die for. What I find fascinating is that you can actually manipulate the colour that some hydrangeas will become by altering the PH in your soil. Additional ground limestone makes pink and red hydrangeas and additional aluminium sulphate and your flowers will become more blue. What's not to love about that! I’d love my garden packed full with pink hydrangeas! Garden goals right!! Plus, they bloom from April to Oct!
Forget Me Not
True these plants are quite unforgettable as like the cow parsley we generally disregard them as weeds. Found on roadside verges, farm land and waste ground they are fragile and willowy in stature which make them quick and easy to press. Their blue colour can sometimes fade but faded beauty can be glamorous too! From May to October these wild guys can be found if you look hard enough.
A member of the butter cup Ranunculaceae family, the larkspur or (Delphinium Consolida) holds it’s own little secret. Like their tall country rivals the foxgloves, they are quite toxic so should be handled with great care making sure your hands are washed thoroughly after handling. Toxic alkaloids aside they press extremely well and have a sweet delicateness that screams vintage farmhouse chic.
Their lightness and pastel colour palette denotes a classic country cottage garden.
What’s also great is the fact that just one towering stalk is adorned with lots of these ethereal individual flowers to fill up your press in one shot. They are pretty easy to grow and self seed being ready to pick from early spring through to June. Pick these beauties when they are looking at their most fresh. This will probably be as they first bloom.
Another name in the flower world to become familiar with is English gardener Sarah Raven who has an elegant assortment of flower seeds available to buy from her website. She also offers invaluable gardening advise that would help any novice gardener transform a seed into a bloom perfect for flower pressing.
Did you know that before your blackberry there was a flower? A pretty extremely fragile blossom that doesn’t last very long so you have to pick as soon as they bloom. Because of their fragility they actually hold very little water which enables them to press really well and extremely quickly. Rambling blackberries & their products are a member of the rubus family and are also categorised simply as brambles. Brambles flower at different times depending on the weather anywhere from March through to June. I don’t know about you but brambles to me always conjure up memories of Brambly Hedge the seasonal children’s fictional stories written by Jill Barklem in 1980. Completely none flower related comment, I think I'm out of sensible wisdom!