Dawn Combs
December 18, 2013
Gifts for Gardeners: Flower Presses - Photo by Dawn Combs (HobbyFarms.com)

Do you have a gardener in your house that seems to already have every plant book and garden tool imaginable? You may be struggling with just the right gift idea that hasn’t been done before.

I am just such a gardener. In my opinion, there really is no such thing as too many books. My husband does not share this opinion. In fact, he has banished all my many gardening and herbal reference books to my apothecary shop, a small room he built for me a couple years ago. He’s hardly likely to hear my suggestions for new additions to my collection, so I had to come up with another idea for my list.

Every year, we make a good portion of our gifts to each other, and this year I’ve been dropping hints in various subtle ways. I’m taking this opportunity to perhaps help out one of my readers while dropping a less subtle hint as to what I’d like from Santa.

Homemade Plant Press
Up to this point in my botanical career, my plant press of choice has been a phone book. It works in a pinch, but honestly, there are some drawbacks. For starters, where does one get a phone book anymore? Next, the book tends to get seen as, well, a book. Your husband then puts it away for you in the bookcase and your carefully pressed cosmos fall out and get crushed between All Creatures Great and Small and The Polar Express. With a binding on one side of your “plant press,” it can also be difficult to carefully place particularly delicate plant specimens. This year, I would really like a portable plant press. You can find plans all over the internet, but the one I like the most is in James Green’s The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook :A Home Manual (Crossing Press, 2000).

Why a Plant Press?
For a plant lover, there are many useful applications for a plant press, whether or not it’s portable. If your loved one does any foraging, every once in a while they will come across something they don’t recognize. Many of us bring home a small sample of plants we wish to learn more about and press them. The preserved plant material can then be placed into a notebook next to any research on the plant so that it’s always available for reference. My family-herbalist ppprentice students here at the farm make their own plant presses and begin to create their own herbariums as part of their studies. When the next class starts up in March, I plan to show off my own!

Do You Know an Herbal Crafter?
If your loved one likes to make pressed-flower crafts, such as handmade notecards and framed works, a plant press is a must. Pressing flowers, roots, unique leaves and more is a great way to preserve the beauty of the summer to enjoy year round.

By the way, I haven’t started making anything for my husband this year. Anyone have some good suggestions for a man who is married to a plant nut?

I hope your search for the perfect gift for your family and friends is one filled with joy!

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