In Conversation with Botanist Professor Stephen Harris of Oxford University

In Conversation with Botanist Professor Stephen Harris

Botanist Professor Stephen Harris is an associate professor in plant sciences at Oxford University. He is also a curator of Oxford University’s herbaria – a collection of approximately one million preserved plant specimens, including samples dating back to 1595.

As a lapsed biologist turned florist, I often wonder about the biology and processes going on when plants dry and what makes some flowers dry better than others.

I was delighted that Professor Harris was kind enough to give up some of his time to have a conversation and answer some of my questions. 

Our Conversation

During our conversation, we talk about what happens to plants as they dry and are pressed. Among other things, Professor Harris explains:

  • How and why techniques like pressing flowers work,
  • How long dried flowers last,
  • Why some flowers dry better than others,
  • Why it helps to dry flowers upside down. 

I was also fascinated to learn about the history of plant pressing for scientific use and how flower pressings collected hundreds of years ago by early botanist explorers can help current research into a huge range of subjects including climate change and engineering.

You can watch the video recording of our conversation below to find out the answers to my questions. 

I hope you find it as interesting as I did, and that the knowledge of what’s going on inside the plant might help you with your own drying and pressing endeavours as I feel it will with mine.

If you would like to try pressing your own plant and flowers specimens for art, craft or science, you might be interested in this large flower press.

You may also be interested in other blog posts about How to Press Flowers with a Flower Press and Pressing Flowers, which offer guides to the practical methods of pressing flowers.

Subscribe to the Newsletter
and receive a gift of 10% OFF

Sign up to receive occasional news, offers and insights from Mary Elizabeth Flowers, with a 10% off voucher to spend on your first purchase.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *