A Rose is a Rose is a Dried Rose

Like fruit on the tree or tomatoes on the vine, roses seem to bloom all at once.  I have been successful enough to have a few rose bushes continue to bloom through the summer if I continue to deadhead and prune - and sometimes even through autumn.

During quarantine, I started up an old hobby I did for several years but stopped over twenty years ago - drying flowers. I
 dried roses, primroses, sweet William, pansies, and violets - any flower that was on the miniature side, I would experiment.

After drying the pretty little posies they went into a "collection" that I would later use to craft wreaths, add to my own blend of potpourri, and bagged them up in little cellophane bags and tied with a pretty ribbon. They made sweet little gifts.

Larger roses and peonies (in bud or not full bloom) I've had success with various ways such as hanging upside down, or just let them dry naturally in their original vase of water. 

There are several ways to dry the smaller blooms - from silica gel to Borax to the microwave. I have never tried placing the flowers between paper towels and microwaving them. I dunno... It just doesn't sound appealing to me.  However back in the 1990s when I started my hobby of drying flowers I used Borax with great success - yes, for those of us old enough to remember the commercials, it's the same "20 Mule Team Borax Laundry Detergent and Multi-Purpose Cleaner" that your grandma used to use. I know mine did.  Yes, it's the same Borax that came out of the hand soap dispenser in grade school that rubbed your skin off down to the bone (My folks sent me to school with my own bar of soap because of my bloody little hands -  of course it was a lavender bar of French-milled soap. My mother wouldn't have it any other way).

When it comes to drying flowers with Borax there are many ways of creating the drying mixture from adding 
1 - 2 tablespoons of un-iodized salt per quart of Borax. You can make a half sand/half Borax mixture, or add two parts cornmeal to one part Borax. Here's what I think about that - don't shake the salt shaker, leave the sand at the beach, and save the cornmeal for a pan of cornbread.

I have used 100% Borax with great success. I lined a shoebox with wax paper and filled it with about 4 inches or more of Borax. You can also purchase a dedicated plastic storage container with a lid if you see that drying flowers is your future.

When drying the flowers I either put them on their sides such as rosebuds or upside down with the stems up. Flowers that have a more open petal like a daisy or a pansy, I place them gently upside down. Cover flowers with Borax.  Don't crowd. Keep the shoebox lid off while drying the flowers, but keep it for later storage. Store the box in a dry area of the house. Let the flowers dry anywhere from four days to two weeks depending on the moisture of the flower and the temperatures and humidity in your area. 

This spring when quarantine started and my roses were prolific, I decided to splurge on a flower drying kit (You can find this kit at your favorite craft store or Amazon). I was presented with two choices, a gallon of the silica gel or the kit. Instead of investing in a gallon of silica and not knowing if I would like the final results, I chose the kit. It came with 1.5 lbs of silica gel, a little tray, a soft tip brush (for removing any silica dust from the finished flowers), and the instructions. The silica can be used for drying in the micro or natural. Once again I chose the natural way to dry the flowers.

Helpful hints? Yes, you can use Borax or the silica gel over and over... As long as both powders stay dry and clean.  You may note that some of the petals will become fragile and a prominent petal may fall off - - but no worries. With a toothpick dipped in white craft glue and doing a touch-up, the petal can take back its important place on the calyx-lobe with the rest of the petals and the bloom will be "whole" again.

The results? I am happy with the natural, but muted shades of the flowers. Do I think the silica gel performs better than the 100% Borax? I am satisfied with both of the results. It's nice to know when one or the other isn't convenient to use or to be found, that I can rely on both to give me pretty posies to enjoy for years. 

Dried posies resting on French Limoge