While your garden is in bloom or perhaps you have flowers to preserve as a memento, drying them is an easy way to save them for making special gift tags for special presents or making individual cards, or perhaps for enhancing a colour scheme in your home.

There are three easy ways to preserve flowers, depending on your choice.

Air drying

A first choice for drying - and particularly good here in Portugal because of the heat - air drying is a good start. You only need flowers, some string, scissors and a stick.

First, remove any unwanted foliage from the flower stems, but retain some if you like the look of greenery, as they will dry too.

Tie a small bunch together with a length of string, and hang them, head down, from the stick. You can have several small bunches hanging alongside each other, maybe separate colours bunched together, and put your collections somewhere dry and dark, as any light on them will cause the colours to fade.

It might take 3-4 weeks to dry, and then spray with special preserving spray (or unperfumed hair spray) once dried to preserve them. If you display them in a vase or mounted in a picture frame, be sure to keep them in a location that doesn’t get direct light.

Microwave Drying

All you need are flowers, some silica sand (available from most hardware stores), a microwave-safe container and a cup of water.

Prepare flowers as before, and cut so that they fit in your container, then add a thin layer of silica sand to the container, place flowers on top, and cover with more silica sand. If the flowers are small, you can place multiples in the same container, but be sure they are completely covered in the sand.

Put a cup of water in the microwave as well, and microwave in thirty second intervals. The drying time varies depending on the density of the flowers.

When the flowers look dry - it should take 2-3 minutes – leave them buried in the sand for 24 hours to ensure they are completely dry, then remove them from the container, gently brush off any sand, and again spray with preserving spray, same as for air-drying.

As before, keep out of direct sunlight to prevent the colours from fading.

Pressing

I used to have a flower press, it was a square device with screws at each corner, and sheets of blotting paper and cardboard were cut to size to press the flowers between – but I also remember getting bored because of the wait for them to dry out!

You don’t really need a special press, but you will need a heavy book, absorbent paper (parchment paper, coffee filters or thin cardboard) and more weight (big bottles of water would work).

Large books like encyclopaedias or dictionaries work best for this because they are heavy and have many pages, but bear in mind that pages in the book might get damaged as it’s possible that the moisture from the flowers may leach into the book pages.

To start, again prepare your flowers as before. Open your book and lay in your chosen paper, add the flowers face down, add another sheet of paper and carefully close the book, then add more weight. Let the flowers sit for 3-4 weeks – the longer you leave them, the less water will be left in them.

Give them two to three weeks before removing them from the book. If they don’t have a papery feel, change the paper and let them sit for a while longer. Using a press will make the flowers flat, which makes them particularly suitable for cards and tags.

It is recommended to use tweezers to handle the flowers now as they will be brittle and delicate. Craft glue (UHU for instance) can be used on a toothpick to glue your flowers to your cards or tags, or you can laminate them or carefully glaze them with a spray of glue to finally seal them.

Preserving flowers is a ‘blooming’ good way to keep your memories going!