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My dried rose is still bright and yellow. It looks fresh and alive.

When I opened my garage refrigerator door, the forgotten rose was the first thing I saw. It was as bright a yellow and as beautiful as the day I left it.

That was September 8, the day my father was buried.

At the gravesite, my mother and I each took a yellow rose from the spray on my father’s casket. When I got home, I put the rose in a small vase in our spare refrigerator and forgot about it.

Until now.

It was exquisite, delicately tinted…deserving of care and preservation.

Which is what DH and I did. It came out perfect.

Besides roses, chrysanthemums (which are at their peak now) also are easily preserved.

dsc00759.JPG This is the gel I used. I got it at Michael’s.

HOW TO PRESERVE FLOWERS WITH SILICA GEL

Conventional Drying Method (This is what I did)

  1. Choose plastic or metal container with tight-fitting lid.
  2. Pour silica gel into container to a depth o 1 1/2 inches to cover the bottom. Cut flower stems to about 1 1/2 “. Space flowers so they do not touch each other. Original stems may be dried and reattached with floral wire and tape after drying.
  3. dsc00722.JPG The stem is cut to 1 1/2″.

  4. Slowly sprinkle silica get around base of flowers, adding it to the top and sides of the flowers. Be careful to support fragile petals with the silica gel before covering the top of the blossom. Make sure all parts of the flowers are covered with a generous layer of silica gel.
  5. dsc00723.JPG The flower is in the gel. See how yellow and fresh it is.

  6. Cover container with airtight lid and put away in a dry place. Drying times vary from 2 to 7 days, depending on the number of flowers in a container and the moisture content of the flowers. Thin petals will dry faster than heavier flower centers.
  7. To remove the flowers, slowly pour off silica gel until blossoms are uncovered. Gently brush away silica gel that may be on the petals using a soft artist’s brush. A few grains of silica gel may be left in the center of heavy flowers to aid in preserving them from room humidity.

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Carefully pouring off the silica gel.

Microwave Directions

Prepare flowers as above but DO NOT COVER the container. Place in the microwave (in a microwave-safe dish) with a glass of water and heat on medium power until dry.

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Fresh-cut snapdragons.

 Suggested Flowers to Preserve

Pansies, violas, baby’s breath, buttercup, feverfew, heather, ferns, azalea, calendula, daisy, aster, bachelor button, larkspur, delphinium, foxglove, roses, carnations, gardenia, marigold, hydangea, hyacinth, chrysanthemum, orchid, snapdragon, stock, peony

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My dried snapdragon flowers and their foilage kept their color and are ready to be added to an arrangement.

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Many of my friends and neighbors hitch up their horses to go shopping.

In my neighborhood, women aren’t judged by the size of their diamonds. That would be prideful.

Nor are they judged by designer labels or gowns. Most wear calico dresses they make themselves. Veiled buns are the hairstyle of choice. A luxury car is rarer than a hen’s tooth. Ladies around here hitch up and head for town in buggies.

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Wildflowers in a field.

But, those same women whose manner of dress and way of living is known as plain…in their gardens create artistic masterpieces worthy of display in any museum. Beds of lavender phlox spring up through silvery rocks in contrast to pink spring tulips. Clumps of blue salva alternate with red geraniums. Tubs and old wagons overflow with colorful pansies. Red petunias then white petunias then purple ones line long, winding drives. Wildflowers abound in uncultivated fields.

drive-through-the-country-025.jpg A Mennonite Buggy takes the family to town.

A ride to town through the country is one of my greatest pleasures. It’s also the source of intimidation and pressure. Because I want to fit in. And before I met DH, the only flower I ever planted was a marigold.

It died.

To avoid failure, I bought expensive already done-up hanging baskets. And the prettiest flowers the greenhouse had. Mission accomplished. A piece of cake.

Only I didn’t know you were supposed to deadhead blooms once they’d wilted. I had no idea how much water impatiens drink. Or that they don’t do well in direct sun. Or that they should be fertilized.

blog-pictures-007.jpg Birdseeds fall from the feeder and grow into flowers that attract bees, butterflies and lots and lots of goldfinches.

I put my geraniums on my porch in the shade because I thought they were the nicest looking of my flowers and I wanted the people driving by our house to see them.

“Your flowers are looking wilted,” DH would say. But, I’d watered them the day before. They didn’t need water every day.

It is amazing how long and stringy and dried out toward the bottom petunias can get if they are never deadheaded. Or how soon geraniums quit flowering. And then there were the weeds in the front flower bed.

I didn’t take pictures of my flowers the first year.

blog-pictures-073.jpg My favorite lilies. There is only one bloom now, but more are budding and on the way.

The next summer I did better. Because I didn’t want to take chances, I still bought expensive already-done hanging baskets. But, I read the directions on the flower tabs. (Before buying, even.) My mother explained deadheading and gave me starts. On one happy day a lady at the greenhouse complimented me on my flowers after I told her where I lived.

That was two years ago.

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“Meet me at my garden gate.”

This spring, I did my own hanging basket arrangements. Some were even from $5 flats of “not such good looking” flowers and $1.25 geraniums purchased from kids raising funds for their 4-H club.

There were mistakes.

I accidently pulled out a bunch of what I thought were weeds. Except, the one weed I missed grew into a tall, lovely and out of place looking, lone flower, right in the middle of the bed. I didn’t have the heart to pull it.

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Another flower picture.

My beds are kind of haphazard because I forgot what I planted where last year and perennials have popped up unexpectedly between annuals on sale I couldn’t resist. But, my new flower hobby is colorful, challenging and outdoors. Digging in dirt, strangely enough, gives me the same feeling I used to have when I painted on canvas.

I am an artist living among many great masters. As religiously as any apprentice, I study their technique. And, I dream and aspire…

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The cat’s favorite napping place is under the bench. Wonder why?

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Touching up my Thyme sign in anticipation of spring and summer.

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Our trumpet vine will soon be blooming. Two years ago, before we rearranged our fencing, the horses ate it.

blog-pictures-005.jpg The trumpet vine eaters.

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