Herbarium - timeless beauty
Herbaria for two centuries at the peak of popularity. We have collections of dried plants only come in fashion and interiors, but in the West it is impossible to imagine almost no houses without them. From a simple botanical directory about plants, herbariums have long turned into a luxurious hobby and type of needlework. Today, dried plants are more often found not in special herbarium sheets, but in paintings, postcards, panels and albums. Memories frozen in time tell about your favorite garden plants, valuable moments and colorful bouquets. Creating dry panels is a whole art. But art is not at all complicated.
- Herbaria authentic and decorative
- Why are herbariums needed?
- How is herbarium used?
- Drying laws that do not change for centuries
- The subtleties of choosing plants for herbarium
- Paper for drying and mounting herbariums
- Methods of pressing plants for herbarium
- Sizing and strengthening herbarium
- Simple tips for plant location in a herbarium
- Herbarium storage and care
Herbaria authentic and decorative
There is much debate about whether the modern art of plant drying is a variation of true herbariums. The authenticity, authenticity and purpose of the herbarium creation technique has changed significantly over time. And the use of herbaria today is the secret of their popularity.
One thing is for sure: all the herbariums presented as a collection of dried plants are true. And those that are created for scientific purposes, and those whose purpose is completely different, purely decorative.
Herbarium is not a very simple collection of dried plants, prepared by drying between sheets of paper (flattened) and fixed on a solid basis.
Classical herbariums are created on herbarium sheets - thick paper. But today it is being exchanged for a wide variety of objects, which act as the basis for decoration with dried flowers. Originating in the 16th century in Italy, herbaria for many centuries became the main means of research and storage of data on plants, which was used by botanists. As a private hobby and one of the types of needlework, herbaria spread much later.
Herbaria are very different. They may include:
- plants with all parts - from underground but aboveground, including not only flowers, but also fruits;
- whole groups of different plants;
- individual parts of plants (for example, leaves or flowers, petals and fruits).
For scientific purposes, they preserve full herbariums, while in “home” ones they preserve the most attractive parts of the plant, focusing on its size and specific characteristics of leaves and flowers.
Why are herbariums needed?
Herbariums are created not only for scientific purposes and not only as “living” illustrations for plants. Of course, if you have discovered a rare species and decided to help the botanical community, then scientists gratefully respond not only to the photograph, but also to the copy dried by all the rules, even not mounted on the sheet. But today herbaria also:
- help to “preserve" the memories - to keep presented flowers and iconic plants;
- allow you to save a collection of your own garden plants or to preserve the most beautiful and rare flowers for many years,
- offer excellent decorative material as part of eco-design;
- reveal new facets of decoupage, applique and decoration.
How is herbarium used?
- in special albums and herbarium file cabinets;
- for decorating photo albums, diaries and books for notes;
- in decorative panels in combination with lace, painting, decoupage basis;
- in decorating decorative plates, trays and caskets (and other decoupage techniques as volumetric decorations);
- in bookmarks for books;
- to create volumetric paintings and panels in mixed media, including in collages;
- in postcards and scrapbooking, etc.
Drying laws that do not change for centuries
Herbarium today significantly expanded the scope, but practically did not change the methods of drying plants. The rules laid down in the foundation of the creation of herbaria by Karl Linnaeus have been strictly observed so far. And the drying methods, somewhat adjusted due to modern technologies, actually also remain unchanged. And needlewomen, and gardeners, and flower growers, starting to create a herbarium, must not forget about the main, unbreakable rules of this art:
- For herbaria use fresh, not planted, collected in dry weather at the peak of decorative plants, which retain all the parts for a complete herbar leaf or collect the most decorative "details". If you want to dry flowers from a bouquet, be sure to take care of the purity of the water, removing the lower leaves, putting the vases away from sunlight. In the garden, pick plants at dawn. All parts of plants must be without damage. Collect plants with a margin, store until drying in plastic bags and in the cold.
- Before drying, plants should be carefully straightened, straightened, removed any bends and laid out so that the flowers "looked" up, and the leaves and other parts of the plants were deployed both front and back. Plants should be arranged fairly flat, cutting large parts or inflorescences with a knife or scissors for better distribution (for example, rose inflorescences and dahlias).
- Herbarium plants can only be dried between sheets of paper by pressing. Between the covers, or two press panels, a plant is placed on several layers of paper and covered with the same “cover”. Drying paper is regularly changed.
- Drying time is selected individually for each plant - depending on the thickness and juiciness of the leaves and inflorescences. Cereals dry in just a few days, succulents and large flowers require at least 2 weeks of drying at room temperature.
- After drying, plants should be removed from paper carefully using tweezers. They are very fragile, brittle, unnecessary manipulations should be avoided.
- It is necessary to store plants on flat, dense surfaces - on sheets or their analogues.
- Gluing plants should not only be reliable, but not changing the color and texture of the glue. If the plants are stored in herbarium sheets, albums or “in reserve”, they are not glued, but carefully fixed.
- For each plant, it is necessary to sign the species and genus, and if there is information, the variety to which it belongs. In addition, it is better to immediately record information about the place of growth and the date of collection. This rule is usually not violated even when decorating small items (with the exception of postcards). In the process of drying, temporary labels are placed near the plant, and then decorative tags and inscriptions are created in the composition on them.
The subtleties of choosing plants for herbarium
If you are not hunting for rare endemic species and just want to preserve the beauty of your garden, a bouquet presented for a special occasion or stock up on natural decorative materials, then you are more than free to choose plants. Certain species and varieties, novelties of the collection, and hardly obtained garden wonders are as valuable to herbariums as the most ordinary wild flowers.
Materials for the herbarium can be collected in the field and forest (of course, only from the number of common plants that are not listed in the Red Book), in your own garden, in the park. Spikelets, flowers, fruits, leaves, herbs - they are all good. Autumn is especially generous with “materials” for a herbarium, when you can find something literally under your feet.
Not all plants retain their color equally well. Dahlias and delphiniums, violets and rudbeckia, lavender and yarrow look like alive even after drying. Other plants lose their color almost completely. Herbaria of nyvyaniks and various violets, pansies, calendula, cornflowers, roses is very popular today. But other plants - ferns with their luxurious vaya, poppies or orchids - will also become the highlight of the collection. Choose only for you. Buds, petals, individual flowers, the whole plant, leaves - all of them are equally beautiful and can be used for various herbariums.
On a note: so that the leaves of the plant retain their color better, they can be treated with silica gel or denatured alcohol before drying
Paper for drying and mounting herbariums
The paper used to dry the flowers is designed to absorb moisture as quickly as possible and dry parts of the plant without wilting, browning and yellowing. For the actual drying, you can use a variety of paper with a large absorption capacity:
- printing paper;
- porous cardboard;
- stationery and writing paper;
- wrapping paper;
- the so-called technical whatman - rough, dense and very porous types of whatman;
- thin watercolor paper.
In addition to the actual paper, you can use thin cotton cloth, toilet paper, paper towels for this purpose. The main thing is that the paper is smooth, without an obvious texture and embossed patterns (or paint and motifs that can "fade" onto other objects). To get especially thin, perfectly flat herbaria, in addition to plain paper to dry, lay toilet paper or cloth in 2-3 layers.
Glue plants only on thick paper. Today, the choice of various types of decorative paper allows you to vary not only density, but also texture, color, additional effects. Herbaria can be created on:
- ordinary dense (not technical) whatman paper;
- watercolor paper;
- paper for pastel or high-density drawing;
- decorative cardboard:
- canvas or canvas stretched on a frame (or glued on cardboard).
In addition to paper, you can use any decorative objects with a flat surface to place the herbarium - from dishes and trays to books, boxes, boxes, etc.
Methods of pressing plants for herbarium
The drying technique of pressed flowers has not changed, but modern technologies have presented many original and quick methods to achieve the desired result.
Method 1. Flower press
The classic method of drying plants for a herbarium is to use a special press for flowers or herbarium frames. The latter have long outlived their own: bulky structures made of mesh-tightened frames that were pulled together after stacking sheets with plants between them remained a property of the times. The simplest flower press is a design that can be found in any needlework store or made by yourself. These are two flat, even and fairly thick boards of the same size, fastened with four screws in the corners. To use such a press, it is enough:
- Lay plants between two sheets of paper for drying;
- place the structure between two wooden planks;
- slowly and carefully begin to tighten the boards, tightening the screws and pressing the plant in paper. The press must be “closed” as tightly as possible;
- change paper every 3-4 days, keeping the plant dry.
In general, the drying process in a flower press will take 2-4 weeks.
Method 2. Fast drying with an iron
The method that botanists used back in the days of Linnaeus is much faster iron drying. To do this, completely drain the water from the device and turn off all steam modes. And the drying process itself is not so simple:
- Carefully spread the plant, flatten it on a sheet of paper to dry and cover with the same paper on top;
- crush the plant with a book so that it becomes flat and leave it for several hours;
- preheat the iron to minimum temperatures - you need to dry the plants in the most gentle mode;
- lay the paper with the plant between the sheets on the surface for ironing;
- put the iron on the top sheet of paper and press down for 10-15 seconds, without moving the iron and, moreover, without ironing the surface;
- remove the iron, allow the surface of the paper to cool, and then repeat the process;
- check the plant, and then repeat the procedure as many times as necessary to achieve the result.
When drying with an iron from exposure to maximum temperatures, the color of both the leaves and the flowers may change. Before applying this particular method, it is better to check the result on a small flower or leaf, and only then dry the main material.
Method 3. Drying between books
If you don’t have a press, but an extensive library is at hand, you can use books to dry the herbarium. The principle of their action is the same:
- the plant needs to be placed between the layers of paper to dry, carefully spreading;
- put paper with the plant in the middle of the book, the size of which corresponds to the size of the sheets;
- lay the book on a flat surface, pressing down on top with several more pressing toms;
- replace dry paper daily or a little less frequently.
Drying in the book also has its drawbacks: the plant may dry out unevenly, and moisture will harm the publication itself. And the folios should be quite large.
Method 4. Microwave Drying
The ability of a microwave to draw moisture from foods and act at the molecular level may be considered a cooking flaw, but this characteristic is a real find for drying flowers. True, drying plants in the microwave is just an intermediate step. For complete drying of the plant, then it will be necessary to additionally dry it with classical cold methods. For drying in the microwave, you can use a special press, 2 durable ceramic tiles or books:
- place the plant between two sheets of paper to dry;
- if you use a book, just put paper with the plant in the middle;
- if using ceramic tile or a press, lay on top and bottom of the paper a sheet of thick cardboard, and then place the structure between the tiles;
- tie the halves of the press together, fasten the book with a thread or elastic;
- set low microwave modes with low power;
- place the press with the plant inside the microwave and turn on the device for 30-60 seconds;
- allow the structure to cool completely, and then turn on the microwave again for no more than 1 minute;
- continue the process until the flowers dry;
- take out the structure, remove the book (or press and cardboard) and send flowers in paper to dry or in a flower press, or under books for 2 days.
Sizing and strengthening herbarium
The leaves of many plants, like the flower petals after drying, are very fragile and the slightest careless movement can negate all efforts. To avoid this, materials and particularly thin parts can be “strengthened”: soaked in a solution of PVA glue and water, then re-dried in air. The optimal ratio is 1 part water to 5 parts PVA glue. You can replace the latter with acrylic varnish or glue varnish for decoupage.
If the herbarium is used for bookmarks, then on top it can be strengthened with transparent tracing paper or rice paper, glued with a decoupage napkin that is impregnated with glue and varnish and becomes transparent, but does not allow the plant to crumble from the base. Various types of decorative varnishes, which are best applied not with a brush, but with a spray, will also help strengthen plants after creating decorative compositions.
Fixing the plant on the sheets directly depends on the quality of the herbarium used.If you are composing a genuine herbar leaf with just one plant on it (or composing your album, putting things in order in stocks), then you do not need to glue the plant: it is sewn with short stitches to strengthen the shoots or fastened with thin strips of paper or scotch tape.
But when used for panels, decoration, decoupage, scrapbooking and paintings, plants are glued to the base (both with PVA glue, gum arabic, carpentry glue, and special transparent glue for decoupage or surround decor).
Simple tips for plant location in a herbarium
Regardless of whether you create a classic herbarium with one plant or a decorative composition, do not forget that the main goal of fixing plants on the basis is the durability of the structure, ease of use and keeping dried copies intact. To do this, try:
- place plants not in the center of the sheets, but in such a way that the thickest, most massive parts are located at the bottom of the panel or are shifted to the sides for which the object is taken (if you are collecting an album or a book, alternate the arrangement of the thickest parts so that the whole the stack was flat);
- in decorative compositions, look for the most advantageous angle in which dried plants will look especially striking and touching;
- navigate by frame or background, placing plants in the semantic center of the composition.
- place large additional elements to the herbarium, and labels, inscriptions and small decorations designed to reveal the beauty of natural elements - after fixing the plant on the basis.
Herbarium storage and care
The stock of dried plants that you have not yet applied to the herbarium sheets and have not used in the decor should be stored in folders or between sheets of thick paper, in stacks of plain paper, shifting them with tracing paper.
The main condition for the preservation of the collection of dried plants is maintaining optimal air humidity. Dampness even for herbariums that were used in decoration and decoration is not permissible.