You can easily preserve the flowers from your garden by drying them at the peak of summer freshness. You can dry your blooms by hanging them upside down, or you can press the flowers in a large book. Pressed flowers will be flat, and are good for decorating vases, greeting cards or homemade paper. Hang-dried flowers will maintain their shape, and you can display them in dried bouquets. The freshest flowers make the best dried decorations, so pick your flowers when they are at the peak of blooming.
Remove flowers from the garden when the plants are healthy and dew free. Flowers should be bright and crisp, avoid plants that are wilted. Clip the flower stem at its base with garden shears and bring the flowers inside.
Remove all the leaves from the flower stems, leaving only the stem and the flower.
Divide the flowers into small bunches of four to five flowers each.
Tie twine or string around the stems of each bunch, forming a small bouquet.
Hang your bouquets in a dry area, such as an attic or closet. Hang the flowers upside down, with the flowers' heads facing the floor. Fasten the bouquet to a nail, clothesline or coat hanger so it is secure.
Leave the flowers to dry for one to two weeks, until the stems and petals are obviously dry and brittle. Drying time will vary depending on the moisture in the drying room.
Take the bouquets down and cut the string around each bouquet. Arrange the flowers in a vase or basket for display.
Harvest fresh flowers when they are healthy and vibrant. Do not choose flowers that are wet or wilted. Cut the stems near the base using sharp garden shears and bring the flowers inside.
Remove thick stems from your flowers. Thick stems will not press well; clip the stem where it connects to the head of the flower and throw it away.
Cut several sheets of newspaper into squares that are slightly larger than your flowers. Use only black and white pages, as colored inks can leach onto flower petals.
Open a large book to a page near the back. Layer two to four sheets of newspaper on the book's page, and lay your flower on top of the newspaper. Put several more squares of newspaper on top of the flower, and close the book. The front pages will weigh on your flower, pressing it flat as it dries. You can press several flowers in the same book; flip about 100 pages ahead to press the next flower.
Stack additional books or heavy objects on top of the book containing your flowers. Distribute weight evenly over the face of your original book.
Let the flowers dry for at least three to four weeks, or until you want to use them. Display pressed flowers in homemade papers, greeting cards, candles---or decoupage pressed blooms onto a vase. Flowers can be stored in books for years before use.
About this Author
After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a bachelor's degree in legal studies, Hanna Terhaar began working full-time as a freelance writer. In the nine months she has been working professionally, Terhaar's articles have been published on sites such as eHow.com, DIY Chatroom and The Daily Puppy.