This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V18", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Mr. Wermig's instructions, published in The Garden, from time to time, in reference to drying flowers and Grasses, have so much pleased me that I am induced to ask a few questions respecting the preservation of white flowers. In some cases I have succeeded very well with these; but, in others, I have failed. The floral leaves, or rather petals soon curl and turn yellow, especially those of Roses, when dried in sand. Is there any chemical agent which could be used to bleach them after being dried? By what process can I preserve white Camellias, Tuberoses, Pinks, Roses, etc, so that they will retain their original whiteness and form? I have failed to dry white Camellias without being spotted. In drying the Immortelle with borax ought the flowers to be bleached first, or remain in their natural yellow color? - L. F. Sanderson, River Bank Nursery, San Jose, California.
[To the foregoing Mr. Gustave Wermig, to whom this letter has been sent, furnishes the following reply: - If Mrs. Sanderson did not succeed in preserving white Camellias, white Roses, Tuberoses, and similar flowers, she has not had a worse result than the most experienced preservers of flowers have. Up to this time I do not know a single instance in which I have seen a dried specimen of the above-mentioned flowers, and of many others - as. for instance, all the Orchids, and most flowers of Monocotyledonous plants. White flowers, especially, are very difficult to manage, as they nearly always become spotted with a shade of yellow, which gives them a rather dirty appearance. The only flowers which are pure white in bouquets of Everlastings are to be found among the true Everlastings, viz., the pretty little Ammobium alatum, white Immortelles, Xeranthemum annuum album, etc. How to preserve these well, I described in my former articles. Even among dried white Asters, although much used and, if well done, pretty looking, I never could find one which was pure white; every one had, more or less, a shade of yellow.
It may be that, with the aid of chemistry by-and-by. we may succeed in preserving a greater number of.flowers in their natural colors; but, up till now, we must be contented with a limited number. Referring to the other question in the above letter about the coloring with borax, Mrs. Sanderson may, without hesitation, take the Immortelles in their natural state; yellow as they are, they turn to a beautiful scarlet if managed in accordance with the directions which I gave in a former number of The Garden. I must add, however, that flowers colored with borax become paler in the course of time, especially if exposed to the sun; while those colored by aniline keep their color much longer. Borax, however, is cheaper, and gives the finest scarlet. - The Garden.]