Not sure if it is true, but I feel that making a herbarium was done more a century ago than it is today. Yet it is very fun to do. I have read that the herbarium of Jacqueline van der Waals was a most beautiful one. Feeling like making one yourself? Here you can read how to create your own herbarium in 10 steps.
1. Think what you want to do with your herbarium
What will be the purpose of your herbarium? Will you collect the most beautiful sorts to create a high-quality design book, are you interested in studying the plants or will you investigate which species are growing in your own direct neighborhood? To have an idea before you start will make your project more manageable.
2. Start collecting
Now you know what you want to achieve, you can start collecting. Find the species that fit your collection best. Wherever you go, look around you. Think about the size of your herbarium when collecting. Big banana trees won’t fit! Warning: Do not bring protected plant species to the Netherlands and the EU. And do not order them abroad. Protected plant species are protected because they are threatened with extinction and is therefor prohibited.
3. Draw or photograph the plant and its surroundings
Register most prominent features of your findings, such as flowers, leaves, or branch formations and its natural habitat by drawing of photographing them. It’s sometimes needed to find these details back and you might use it in your contemporary herbarium.
4. Record key details
Key details such as length, width and other dimensions. Don’t forget to bring your ruler, pen and notebook when on the hunt. You will need this information for determination later on.
5. Cut the plant or flower
Once you are sure you want to add this species to your herbarium, cut a piece of the plant, leaving it as much intact as possible. Cut with a sharp knife or pruning shears near its base or stem.
6. Take it home
Now you’ve cut the plant, you need to take it home safely. Bring a box or something to transport the vulnerable flowers and plants home safely without damaging them.
7. Clean the speciments
First clean your cuttings thoroughly with a soft brush. Snip away a surplus of leaves to make it just the way you like to present it.
8. Start pressing
There are several ways you can press your findings. Use old heavy (phone)books or an official plant press. As longs as the plants are in between water absorbing materials and underneath a considerable pressure. Make sure that you arrange the plants the most attractive way and keep 2.5–5 cm of space between each specimen to keep them from overlapping or sticking together.
9. Drying process
Depending on the size and type of plants you are preserving it will take up until 3 weeks before your specimens are dry. Check every day and refresh the sheets in between the plants are drying as they might get saturated.
10. Make your herbarium
After drying your plants will be very fragile. Be careful when applying a light coating of adhesive to the backside of your plant and mount it on a acid-free paper. Create labels with the details you collected to classify each of your specimens and add them to the paper. Your herbarium is in the make!