ASK THE HORT AGENT
Question How can I preserve a special flower from a special event?
Answer The primary goal of each plant is perpetual production of new plants from seeds. Flowers are the fruiting part of a plant responsible for reproduction. Some plants have developed fragrant, colorful and sometimes nectar-rich flowers to aid in the process of pollination. These flowers attract insects and animals that help produce genetically diverse seeds. While such flowers are critical in the natural survival of plants, they are merely one temporary step in a plant’s life cycle. As a plant part, fleshy flowers are not constructed for long term existence. The trunk of a cypress tree may exist for thousands of years, but the average flower exists 5 to 8 days.
Humans pop into the equation with the concept of beauty. While all of nature is beautiful, people are more attracted to the colorful, delicate shapes of flowers. People use flowers as the standard of natural beauty. The part of a plant meant to attract bees has forever caught the attention of people.
Flowers have been woven into all important occasions, from weddings to funerals. It is human nature to sometimes keep an object to remind them of an important event. Unfortunately, individuals sometimes pick a delicate flower. The masters of preservation, the Egyptians, have shown us the greatest of efforts will succumb to time. One law of physics will be obeyed - matter cannot be created or destroyed, but it does change form.
The nutrients that make up the flower may exist forever, but we have no way to perfectly preserve the natural balance that exists at any given time in the life of a flower. A dried flower looks dried. A frozen flower looks frost bit. An embalmed flower looks mummified.
However, there are a couple ways to preserve a flower. The first way is through memories. Instead of using flowers to remember an event use the event to remember the flowers. Make each event as memorable as possible. Use all of your senses and be a participant. Dr. Mark Howard, pastor of Kennebec Baptist Church, says, “Memories serve us in one of two ways. They are either treasures or anchors.”
The second way to preserve a flower is to maintain a garden. Not all flowers can be grown in your landscape, but beautiful flowers can be grown no matter where you live. These flowers are also temporary. However, through gardening we realize it is the act of cultivation and not observation that gives us perpetuity.
It is through our actions that memories become treasures. Our continual cultivation of positive relationships gives us memories for perpetuity. The short life of a flower ends up reminding us of the importance of living in the present.
For more info about drying flowers, visit http://extension.missouri.edu/publications/DisplayPub.aspx?P=G6540 If you don’t have internet access, call the Extension Office at 893-7530 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
According to Henry Holland, “Nothing is past. Nothing has been lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before – only better. We will be one, together forever.” We will miss Master Gardener, Pam Webb, for only a brief moment.
Gary L. Pierce
Horticulture Extension AgentHarnett County