PRESERVING FERNS

The art of pressing ferns is a summer activity that has been enjoyed by men, women, and children throughout the centuries.  Pressing plants is one way to bring the calming elements of nature into living spaces.  During the Victorian Era, every fashionable home had botanical frames of woodland ferns to enhance their decor. 

Nearly 12,000 fern varieties grow throughout the world.  The study of ferns, and all plants that reproduce via spores, is known as pteridology.  A field guide to Native Ferns of the Northeastern United States lists 75 different fern species growing in my region.  I must admit, this plant family is fascinating and has drawn me into a world of discovery.

Ferns are the easiest plants to press and frame. The results are amazingly stunning as wall decor.  Usually, I press the Cinnamon Fern and Royal Fern, but have had good success with all species.  A single fern makes a bold statement, yet an entire wall of museum quality specimens can be breathtaking.  Here are a few guidelines to help you get started... 


DRYING & PRESSING FERNS

Tools & Supplies

Clippers/scissors ~ Old telephone book/notebook ~ Wicker/cardboard tray


TIPS & TRICKS

1. Select pristine specimens at the height of their color.

2. Immediately place ferns between the pages of an old telephone book or notebook.

3. Place larger ferns on a wicker or cardboard tray and return quickly to press them.

4. In a hot attic or drying shed, spread ferns on a floor or table. They should lie perfectly flat placed between several layers of newspapers without overlapping.

5. Separate layers with 3 to 4 sheets of paper to stack.

6. Place a sheet of plywood on top of pile with additional weight if needed to flatten the stack. 

7. In 3 to 4 weeks ferns will be ready for use.  Ferns can stay 'as is' until needed.

 8. Pressed ferns retain their green color and can be used in dried bouquets as well as framed pressed botanicals.


I'll leave you with this bit of Slavic Folklore:

"Ferns are believed to bloom once a year on the evening of summer solstice.  Anyone lucky enough to see the elusive fern-flower is promised happiness and wealth the rest of their life." 

Like many traditional sayings, this is only a myth because ferns are not angiosperms and cannot produce flowers, but we can always dream a little...right?

Happy Foraging,

Sally