Saying Goodbye to Your Garden with Pressed Flowers

Saying goodbye to your garden is never easy. Never!  

I remember just a few years ago when I said goodbye to my garden of 30+ years – hoo boy, was that hard.  

While I came up with some helpful coping strategies to make the transition easier (click here to read), it was still an emotional roller coaster. 

Oh, how I wish I had thought of pressed flowers as a way to take a bit of my garden with me.

Instead, we rented this giant truck, and hauled my babies with us – ha! (yes, this is a truck solely dedicated to haul my plants.)

Alas, I didn’t think of it then, but I did with the next big move.

Last year, I went through this process all over again but on a different level – helping my mother move.

With my father’s passing, their 1.5-acre garden was just too much for my mom to take care of by herself. 

So, my mother decided to say goodbye to her garden, embark on a new adventure, and move to a home with a much more manageable garden.

pressed flowers

After a year or so of getting mentally (and physically) ready to move, BAM – the pandemic hit! 

Talk about an emotional wrench thrown into the mix.   Even though she was packed up and ready to move, she had to stay put for one more year.  

During that very looooong year of being house-bound (seems like eons ago, doesn’t it?), we decided to organize all of our old family photos and heirlooms once and for all.  

One day while sorting mementos,  I discovered an old Bible that belonged to my great-great-grandmother. 

And, pressed between some of the pages were flowers from her wedding bouquet – dated 1892!   

I CAREFULLY took the fragile flowers from her bible and glued them into this frame.

pressed flowers

I just had to place it in this window for a minute to show you all the intricate details, and how beautiful it is.  🙂 

I’d never keep it in a window, though, as the UV rays would damage the flowers.

That’s when the lightbulb went off and I remembered my long-forgotten love of pressing flowers. 

pressed flowers

Pressing flowers has been part of my life ever since I was a little girl. 

In fact, whenever I thumb through some of my grandmother’s old books, a faded flower will appear on the pages that I pressed years and years ago.  

Even my younger brother got involved at one point and, with the help of my father, made this cute little flower press for my 16th birthday. 

I’ve kept it ever since and love the little forget-me-knots still pressed between the pages.

pressed flowers

Last year, once Covid was under control, it was finally time to sell my mother’s home.   

A  few weeks before it was to be listed, I felt quite emotional – more than I was when it came to leaving my own garden. 

I then remembered all those pressed flowers from gardens past and realized the flowers in my mother’s garden are memories just waiting to come with us on this new journey.

So, my husband surprised me with a flower press for my birthday, to help spur me on with this idea.

This is the flower press I used, and while they’re a little pricey, they’re worth every penny. 

They’re much larger than others I’ve found, which makes it easy to press larger specimens (like the clematis, left, with its long stem and tendrils.)  

The larger presses are also heavy, which is needed when pressing lots of flowers at once.  Flimsier and lightweight presses don’t always apply even pressure, which results in unevenly pressed flowers. 

And, as a bonus, each press comes with two refill packs, which I guarantee you’ll quickly fill up once you begin!  I’ll warn you – it’s addicting!

pressed flowers

As I sat in the quiet of my mother’s home, it filled my heart with such happiness to carefully choose which flowers would come along with us on this new journey.

I picked the flowers mid-morning, after any dew had evaporated, and then arranged them on the pages by color.  You can arrange them any way you like, but for me, it was a relaxing and creative way to group them. 

It’s been an insanely busy year (as you can imagine), but here we are – one year later. 

My mother is now happily settled into her new home and garden, moving forward again in this new phase of her life. 

 

pressed flowers
pressed flowers

It will be Mother’s Day soon, so I wanted to create something really special using all those ‘flower-memories’ I pressed last year. 

I found the flower press and began taking it apart, not knowing what I’d find. 

I held my breath with anticipation with each layer I exposed, not remembering what I had pressed. 

And each layer was better and better – I felt like a kid on Christmas morning!

I bought the largest clear glass frame I could find here and spent a peaceful afternoon re-creating her previous garden into something entirely new and different. 

pressed flowers

Each flower chosen were favorites of my parents, and it was so FUN to see how the colors turned out once pressed (like their ‘Playboy’ rose, below and left.)

pressed flowers
pressed flowers

Or, my father’s favorite ‘Red Eye’ rhododendron (below.)

Even though the flower colors on the shrub are a hot magenta, when pressed they turn into shades of deep, rich purple.

 

pressed flowers
pressed flowers

My favorite pressed flower of all, though, is the ‘President’ clematis that scrambled over the trellis my father built. 

Here’s an interesting fact re: pressing that clematis. 

While the color of the flower is to-die-for (the deepest purple I’ve ever seen), it seemed kind of dark and gloomy when pressed (see photos, below.)

But when flipped over, it looked amazing with the stripe down the center of each petal! 

So, I flipped it around for the focal point of my creation. 

pressed flowers
pressed flowers
pressed flowers

 

Ta-Da! Here it is!  

My mother hasn’t seen her gift yet (it isn’t Mother’s Day, after all), but I’m hoping when she sees her garden again, it brings her the same happiness and joy it brought me. 

If you or someone you know will be saying goodbye to their garden, I highly recommend pressing flowers as a way to make a difficult transition a little easier. 

pressed flowers

For additional reading, I found a few really, REALLY interesting articles you might enjoy.  

The first was written by the curators of the Merchant’s House (one of my favorite little courtyard gardens in New York City – click here and scroll down to see why, and click here to read their article.)

The other article is here, and has to do with the Victorians’ fascination with pressing seaweed. 

I ended up down this rabbit hole because I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out what flowers my great-great-grandmother pressed (because they sure look like seaweed to ME!) 

I highly doubt she had enough money to travel to the ocean, considering she lived on a farm in Kansas, so it’s a mystery for sure. 

pressed floweres

If interested, I’ll also include a few links for products that were helpful for me.

First, I used Aileen’s glue which was recommended by others who press flowers for a living.  It dries fast and clear so work quickly and neatly (especially if gluing on clear glass, like I did.)

And secondly, this is an inspirational how-to book that has given me a ton of ideas for future pressing, called The Art of Pressing Flowers & Leaves.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and if you make any creations of your own, I’d love to see them! 

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24 Comments

  • I will treasure this story forever! I, too, was into pressing flowers–even pressing some from my mom’s funeral into a frame. Now I want to explore some of my heavy books to see what I cached over the years.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Linda, and such a sweet thing to press your mom’s flowers. I have some dried flowers in a little crystal vase that were at my dad’s funeral (had I thought about it at the time, I would’ve rather pressed them!)

      Reply
  • Oh my goodness this is such a wonderful story. My mother, who had a beautiful garden and green thumb, and I became enamored with pressing flowers back in the mid-60s after trip to Williamsburg. My dad made her a large flower press. We also found the ingredients to dry flowers for bouquets. Such wonderful memories. I’m much older now and just loved this post, the happy memories it evoked, and all your included links. Thank you so much.

    Reply
    • I’m so happy you enjoyed this post, Dorothy, and thank you so much sharing your own story. Pressing flowers seems to evoke all sorts of memories for people, and I’m so happy it took you on a trip down memory lane. That’s the beauty of pressed flowers, isn’t it?

      Reply
  • Thank you for this beautiful and inspirational posting!

    Reply
    • I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Linda! I hope your garden is growing strong (it will continue to do so throughout the year) and give you lots of flowers that you can press some day soon! 🙂

      Reply
  • This article brought memories of my childhood and pressed flowers. The photos of the pressed flowers are wonderful! Thanks.

    Reply
    • Hi Sylvia, I’m so glad you enjoyed this article. Hmmm…perhaps you and your daughter can press some flowers from your gardens!? 😉

      Reply
  • You are so creative, Rebecca!!
    Such beautiful arrangements of the different flowers and colors. Do you have to use something to fix the colors or do they just fade gradually over time?
    Happy Mother’s Day to you and your Mom. I’m sure she will be thrilled with your gift!!
    Happy gardening ,
    Elizabeth

    Reply
    • Hi Elizabeth, the flowers retain their colors for a long, long time – nothing added to fix them. They’ll eventually turn a faded brown, but you can see that even the ones from my childhood (maybe 40+ years ago) still have a bit of color in them. I can only imagine how glorious your roses must look right now!!!

      Reply
  • What a wonderful post. Your lovely story of the dried flowers from your grandmother’s bouquet has inspired me to buy the press (direct from the maker), the book and a glass frame as a wedding gift for my daughter who is getting married in the summer. She can press some flowers from her bouquet as a memento! Many thanks!

    Reply
    • Wonderful, Jude! I’m so happy this inspired you and your daughter will love this gift! For a little inspiration, take a peek on instagram as there are a LOT of people pressing wedding bouquets.

      Reply
    • How do you keep the flowers from sliding around in the frame?

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      • Hi Karen – I put a dab of glue (I use Aileen’s tacky glue – I included a link to it in the post) on the back of the flower. Just a teeny little dab – it dries clear so you don’t see it. Just be careful to not get it on the glass because it’s tricky to remove. I use a toothpick to dab the glue, btw.

        Reply
  • Wonderful reading Rebecca. Such a great idea! This takes me back to my plant taxonomy class at SF State!! It takes a little practice to press flowers correctly, so the reference book you mention is a very good idea to have. Thank you for inspiring us yet again!

    Reply
    • You’re so welcome, Ronnie, and you’re absolutely right about it taking a little practice pressing those flowers correctly (my first ones had their poor petals mushed in all sorts of awkward positions!)

      Reply
  • This is beautiful! I have a long wall that is hard to decorate because of it’s location. This a a wonderful idea it. I also have some buttercups that my now 18 year old granddaughter picked for me when she was 4. They were given to me on her last Sunday at our church before moving to another state. She handed them to me and said “I want to give you these so you can have something to remember me.” I kept put them in a small piece of paper and kept them in my Bible all of these years. Reading your article gave me an idea to frame them. Thank you for sharing this article.

    Reply
    • Lou, this story absolutely warms my heart. It is the perfect example of how meaningful pressed flowers can be – I just love it and am so happy you’ll frame them so you can see the flowers every day! 🙂

      Reply
  • Dearest Rebecca, your posts are always lovely and thoughtful, but this one is very special. I loved every single word. Happy Mother’s Day, my friend!

    Reply
    • Aw, thank you so much, Sheila. I hope you’re doing well and happy (early) Mother’s Day! xoxo

      Reply
  • Such a beautiful and heartfelt post Rebecca, thank you. Your Mother will be so surprised and delighted with your amazing and thoughtful gift.
    You’ve inspired me to begin pressing my garden flowers and giving them framed as gifts–great idea!
    I love your blog and am still hoping you’ll pay my Italian garden a visit one of these days.

    Warmest wishes,
    Paula

    Reply
    • Hello Paula, and so nice to hear from you! I SO enjoy your instagram posts, dreaming of when we might return to Italy again. When we do, we are 100% going to visit your garden. Pressing flowers is definitely having a moment these days (check out insta for some amazing accounts like https://www.instagram.com/thedandelionfoxart/?hl=en) to really get inspired! 🙂

      Reply

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