Originally introduced in 1813 by William Hyde Wollaston to the Royal Society in London, it was not until the late 80's the freeze-drying industry discovered the allurement and longevity of freeze-dried flowers. Freeze dried flowers are fresh flowers that have been specially dried to preserve their natural shape and color. Freeze drying is accomplished by a process called sublimation. It requires a special freeze-drying machine. It involves first freezing the flowers at 100K for at least 12 hours. A vacuum pump slowly pulls the moisture out of the flowers as a vapor in one chamber, and then the vapor condenses as ice in another chamber. Because of this process, the shape and natural color of the flower is maintained. It has been found that certain flowers retain their color well despite the fact they have been freeze-dried. Apparently, such flowers retain their color due to the tissue composition of the petals, leaves, and the like. Carnations, African violets, roses, asparagus and other ferns, and baby's breath exhibit good color retention notwithstanding the dehydration during the freeze-drying process. Those floral pieces which either dull or fade from dehydration may be given color by utilization of a florist's spray. This spray coloring restores the lost color which, in the sealed environment of the glass container of the final product, retains its given color along with the natural color of the other pieces.
Flower preservation is as early as the history of man, although deliberate flower preservation is a more recent phenomenon. In the Middle East, the bones of pre-historic man were discovered with delicate wild flowers probably as a tribute to a passing loved one. Evidence of deliberate use of specific flowers is indicated by the pollen grains that were present. Brightly colored and vivid flowers were also found in Egyptian tombs. These flowers were approximated to be 4,000 years old. In the sixteenth century medicinal nosegays began to give way to ornamental ones. Flowers essentially started to be used for decorative purposes such as jewels, fans and gloves. During the Elizabethan Age the once familiar ruff was replaced by soft lacy collars, and bosom flowers also became popular.
Out of the Victorian era grew the fascination of communicating with flowers carried in the nosegays. The idea of the Language of Flowers developed, when it was decided that giving and receiving a bouquet of flowers, when the flowers themselves carry a meaning, gives much greater pleasure.
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