Sparrow and Finch Gardening Why Are People Still Pressing Flowers

Why Are People Still Pressing Flowers

For over 500 years, we’ve documented the beauty and science of nature with the help of pressing plant material. It’s a custom that everyone can be a part of.

Pressed Ranunculus, sweet peas, a hellebore flower and more are mounted between pieces of glass in a finished work by Lacie RZ Porta, of Framed Florals, in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.Credit…Lacie RZ Porta

My desire to garden vibrantly and in a way that is expressive is a result of Grandma Marion, who always left room for an abundance of zinnias and marigolds that echo the hues of Fiestaware she kept on her shelves. She also passed on her love for dried flowers, that have a distinct type of beauty that is enduring regardless of how faded they may be.

Two of what she described as the “pressed-flower pictures” — fragments of her favorite garden laid out in an artistic way on glass-covered fabrichanging in my upstairs hallway. In recent months, I’ve begun to think that these mementos of a long-gone spring are trying to communicate something. Set an example of the way to age gracefully, perhaps however, I doubt this was her intention.

She wanted to share the essence of the garden, and to recognize its significance in her own life by making her adorable little ones lasting, a constant message of love and connection. The idea was a success.

It’s not a surprise that I have a connection with modern plant pressers such as Linda P. J. Lipsen, the creator of the new guidecalled “Pressed Plants: Making a Herbarium.”The institution and the woman who founded it are part of the 500-year-old history of preserving the world’s natural environment making use of pressed plants to understand. Comparing modern specimens with historic ones can provide a wealth of information about the changing geographical ranges of plants as climates change, for example, or record the introduction of an invading species.

To Lacie RZ Porta, Another fan: The reason she decided to press flowers was the need to save her wedding bouquet. After the celebration weekend, she became anxious.

“I can’t throw them out,” she thought. “I need them.” She scoured the internet for an option to preserve the sacred rite of passage that they symbolized.

Creatives such as the one who created Ms. Porta can take creative freedom when pressing flowers, which people who are making herbarium specimens can’t. She could take out the juicy, thick center of a bloom or cut off the bunch of flowers in the hydrangea flower head.Credit…Lacie RZ Porta

After a while, she had taken an entire year off from teaching preschool and leasing an office. She established the company Framed Florals located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, specializing in the art of keeping bouquets of brides’ flowers between two glass panes, and offering a variety of dried flower arrangements.

There’s no clear line between science and art for either. “Specimens that don’t work out become cards,” Ms. Lipsen told me laughing.

A few Of Ms. Porta’s works include an explicit reference to scientific methods, though the audience might not understand the connection. A customer asked why a small piece of tape on the stem of the plant on a place card when the stem was stuck down.

Herbarium specimens, especially ones with woody or bulky stems, are typically made to be safe.

“If you don’t have the back story, and an appreciation for the tradition of pressing, you might ask that,” Ms. Porta said.

Whatever the final purpose, the person who makes every finished press assumes the role of a storyteller. Are you willing to join these storytellers and respond to the call for exsiccation (the term used to describe drying)?

Lilium leichtlinii, a species of flowering lily that is native to Japan ,is an unmounted specimen taken from the University of British Columbia Herbarium. Herbarium specimens are meticulously arranged so that they can reveal all of the plant’s parts.Credit…Derek Tan

Creative Liberties and. Scientific Protocol

While the processes of both women may be, they have some distinct differences, with the primary one being artistic license and scientific protocols.

In a herbarium, a specimen must include the species’ Latin name, as well as the name of the collector along with the date of collection as well as the specifics of the location in which it was discovered. Also, it should contain all of the plant’s components, laid out to allow us to identify its reproductive components (the stamens and pistils in the petals, for example) or observe other distinctive elements, such as the root system.

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