All About Gardening and Gardening Q & A

by Pernell Gerver

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"The Art of Preserving Flowers"

Wouldn't it be nice to enjoy summer's flowers all year long? You can enjoy blooms out of season, and there are many different ways to preserve flowers, depending on what type of flower it is. Depending on the preservation method, it's possible to maintain the color, form, and shape of the flower. You can preserve any flower when you use the right method. Air drying, using silica gel, and pressing are different flower preservation methods. For each flower there is a method that works best.

One of the simplest ways to preserve flowers is to air dry them. Air drying works well on a wide array of different flowers. There are a couple of different ways to air dry. One is to gather the stems in small bundles, secure them with a rubber band, and hang them upside down in a dry, dark location. This works well for flowers like roses, lavender, and most everlasting flowers.

Another way to air dry flowers is to lay them flat on a screen with their stems inserted through the screen. This is a good way to preserve daisy-like flowers whose petals would curl downward if hung up. Since the flower is laying flat on the screen, the petals dry flat.

Silica gel is another flower preservation method. It's a good choice for flowers that aren't good candidates for air drying. Silica gel isn't really a gel, it's actually tiny crystals that absorb moisture from the flower, resulting in a perfectly-preserved flower. This is a good way to preserve both the shape and color of the flower. Just about any flower can be dried using silica gel. Another benefit of using silica gel is it's a relatively quick process. Flowers are completely dried in as few as a couple of days, depending on what the flower is.




"The Art of Preserving Flowers" Workshop and Plant and Gardening Products Sale


Tuesday, September 23, 6:30 p.m., Westfield Athenaeum (Library) committee room, 6 Elm Street, Westfield, MA

Wednesday, September 24, 7 p.m., Ansuntuck Community College L.R.C. conference room, 170 Elm Street (Route 220), Enfield, CT

Thursday, September 25, 7 p.m., Kiley Middle School auditorium, 180 Cooley Street, Springfield, MA

Saturday, September 27, 3 p.m., Historic Northampton Museum Parsons House, 58 Bridge Street, Northampton, MA


Free and open to the public

For more info.:

Click here to read Pernell Gerver's Gardening Workshop Series schedule and to get directions from your location to any of the locations listed above.

Pressing is a flower preservation method that works well on flat flowers as well as all different types of foliage. The easiest way to press flowers is with a flower press. A flower press has sheets of absorbent paper between layers of cardboard sandwiched between two pieces of wood. The one my wife uses has two velcro straps that wrap around the press and keep it closed tightly. Flowers and foliage are laid between two sheets of paper, covered with cardboard, then the press is sealed closed with the straps. Many layers can be pressed at once. Pressed flowers are ready to use in a couple of weeks or less.

At my free gardening workshop this week I’ll have a large selection of flower preserving products for sale. See the "If You Go" box for more information.

Pernell Gerver's Gardening Q & Aby Pernell Gerver

"Plant Spring-Blooming Bulbs Now"


Q. I enjoy your column every week. I just bought some tulip bulbs, crocus, hyacinths, and daffodils. My question is when should I plant these bulbs? Can I plant them now or should I wait until later this fall? Thank you for your help.

A. All the spring-blooming bulbs you mentioned as well as all the other ones you have seen in the stores should be planted as soon as they are available. They begin arriving in stores in late summer. Bulbs ordered from catalogs also begin arriving in the mail at about the same time.

When bulbs are planted, they begin to grow roots and become established. The earlier they are planted in late summer and early fall, the longer they will have to grow roots before the ground freezes. This is especially important for the early-blooming spring bulbs like crocus, snowdrops, glory-of-the-snow (chionodoxa), and daffodils. Since these bulbs begin blooming oftentimes while snow still blankets the ground in very early spring, they should be planted as soon as you can buy them. If you wait too long to plant spring-blooming bulbs, they will not have enough time to get established before the ground freezes and they may not bloom next spring. If you have to wait to plant them, store them in a cool, dry location. Bulbs can shrivel up or rot and die if stored improperly or too long, so plant them as soon as possible.

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