The hosta leaves are amazing this year, perhaps due to the very wet spring we had. This is the shady north facing hosta garden and already the hosta are overlapping each other. Other plants that grow really well in this garden are bleeding hearts, lily of the valley, trillium and astilbe.
I love all the different shades of greens mixed with creams and whites and all the different textures and patterns on them. This year I decided to try using the flower press to save some.
I’ve got two different flower presses, a traditional wood one and a clay microwave one.
Several years ago my husband made me one that was large enough to get in lots and lots of flowers and leaves from my garden. I’ve given the sizes of mine but you could make it any size you want.
Cut two pieces of ply wood, or any other wood – 43 cm x 35.5 cm (about 17 inches by 14 inches). Drill holes in each of the four corners,about 5 cm from the edges. Put the two pieces of wood on top of each other to make the top and bottom of the press, line up the whole, and put a 10 to 12 cm (4 or 5 inch) with a wing nut through each set of holes. The wing nut goes on the top part of the flower press. You want a nice long bolt so that you can add as many layers inside as you wish. If the bolt is too short you will be limited on the number of blooms you can press at once.
Cut pieces of cardboard and sheets of plain newsprint to fit inside the press. They should be slightly smaller than the press to fit inside. Alternate layers of cardboard, 2 pieces of newsprint or paper towel, then another cardboard. Pick your flowers or leaves and lay out on a sheet of newsprint, add another sheet on top and put between two pieces of cardboard and slot inside the flower press.
Tighten the screws and leave until dry. This is the longer method and takes a couple of weeks or more depending on the thickness of the flower or leaf. I’ve got several leaves in the traditional press and every couple of days I’ll try and tighten the screws again as they start to dry out. I’ve got a selection of hosta leaves inside the press and I’ll check on them in a couple of weeks.
Now on to a faster method. One day a few years ago while browsing garage sales I found a brand new microwave flower press for $2.00. They can retail up to $30.00
It has two absorbent pads of natural wool and two sheets of broadcloth which have never been used. The terra cotta slabs on the top and bottom weigh about 2 pounds each and will ensure that the flowers are pressed flat. Moisture is forced out of the flower, through the pads and out through the slabs which moderate the drying.
I also added a sheet of paper towel to absorb the moisture. You don’t really need the elastics on the corners but it helped to keep the press together when putting in and taking out of the microwave.
Two minutes in the microwave and they were finished and what a difference – perfectly flat and no colour fading. Be careful removing it from the microwave as it gets quite hot. I placed it on a wooden cutting board to cool down before opening it up.
The advantage is the microwave flower press is really fast and gives fantastic results. The disadvantage is I can’t press the huge hosta leaves in here.
Now I just have to decide what to do with the pressed leaves. I’ve pressed lots of flowers before and used them on candles and notecards.
Have you pressed flowers or leaves?