Drying and preserving flowers is as early as man's history, although preserving flowers intentionally for the purpose of personal choice and hobby today, is a more recent development that has caught the fancy of a number of flower aficionados. Archaeology reveals that in the Middle East, some skeletal remains of prehistoric man were wrapped up with dried wildflowers perhaps to pay respects or homage to a dying loved one. A number of Egyptian tombs recently discovered also revealed that brilliantly coloured and colourful flowers were wrapped around the bones of some buried bodies. These dried flowers were estimated to be around 3,500 years old.
Considered to be one of most earliest ways of conserving flowers, dried natural plants and flowers tended to contain their shape and colour when dried by air, normally. Two popular ways of drying and preserving flowers is through the use of glycerine that helps in preserving the flower or the plant and making it appear suppler. However the use of glycerine calls for ensuring that the plant is in its completely hydrated state. Another popular way of preserving flowers is through the method of pressing. Although, pressing is an easy way of preserving flowers, it does not manage to maintain the flower’s original shape and hence all pressed flowers appear flat. Some common ways of pressing flowers is by using old heavy books, newsprint or unglazed paper.
A number of modern methods and trends have emerged, these days, in preserving flowers. Some include hanging fresh flowers in a ventilated area and using a number of air-drying means for different varieties of flowers. Professional methods of drying flowers include using large drying chambers containing industrial fans and convection methods, silica gel drying, molecular sieves, freeze drying and the Vermont process.