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It can be a challenge to keep kids occupied with wholesome activities all throughout the summer, especially when temperatures get too hot to spend the afternoon outdoors. Luckily, many time-tested crafts—like flower pressing!—provide plenty of fun indoors. Preserving the flowers and leaves from your garden is a great way to collect the memories of the garden you and your children grew together.
The first thing you and your kids need to do is collect flowers and leaves to press. Collect them in the morning, after the dew has dried, but before the day has really started to heat up. Flowers that have just opened will make the prettiest pressings. Don’t pick flowers that are bruised or have insect damage, as those marks will turn brown and unattractive after pressing.
While helping your kids snip flowers around your garden, be sure to avoid poisonous plants. You may not realize that euphorbias, rue, asparagus fern, and parsnip flowers can cause blisters or other types of discomfort. Of course, educate yourself on how to identify poison ivy, poison oak ("leaves of three, let it be"), and sumac. You’ll definitely want to steer your kids away from those plants!
As you collect the flowers and leaves, stick them in a bud vase or small cup with water to help keep them fresh. You’ll want to press them the same day you collected them, but putting them in water will help keep them fresh until you’re done picking flowers and have your flower pressing supplies ready.
Organize your flowers by type, as you’ll want to press all your pansies together, your geraniums together, and so on. Different flowers take different lengths of time to dry, so it’s easier to press them in groups with similar flowers.
The easiest and least expensive way to press your flowers and leaves is between the pages of a large, heavy book (old phone books work well). You’ll also need several pieces of wax paper or plain white sheets of paper to protect the pages of your book from being stained by the flowers. Don’t use paper towels, as they will leave their pattern on the flowers you press between them.
Press your flowers however looks best to you. Having multiple flowers of the same type will allow you to experiment with placing them sideways, facedown, and face up. Some flowers, like daisies, are easiest to press when you cut off the stem and place them facedown. Other flowers look nicest when they still have a little bit of their stem attached. Let your creative side decide!
The hardest part is waiting. Once you have your flowers in between the pages of your book, you’ll have to wait two to four weeks (the thicker the flower, the longer the drying time) for the flowers to be completely flattened and dried. Wait until the flowers are dry and papery before taking them out. Use the flowers to make decorative bookmarks, gift cards, sun catchers, place mats, or anything else that could use a cheery flower or two!