October 25, 2016 Written by

The Highlands, NC area is home to beautiful foliage during the autumn months. Tourists love to see changing colors of the trees on the mountains. Experts provide guided nature walks and explain the science behind the changes. But what can you do to preserve autumn leaves and save these natural works of art?

A preserved leaf or two can make a wonderful memento of an autumn visit to the Highlands area and your stay at The Park on Main® . Simply pressing a leaf between the pages of a book will not work, which leaves a crumbling, brown mess. There are plenty of ways to preserve autumn leaves, however.

Microwave Method

The microwave method is one of the quickest and least labor-intensive ways to preserve leaves.
Supplies needed: colorful leaves, paper towels, microwave, acrylic sealant

Here are the steps:

  • Arrange the leaves on paper towels. Place more towels on top to cover them completely.
  • Microwave them for 30-180 seconds. It is best to use fresh leaves as drier leaves are more likely to catch fire. Dry in spurts, for a few seconds at a time. If the leaves curl when taken out of the microwave, they need more time inside. If they look scorched, they were heated for too long.
  • Let the dried leaves sit for two or three days.

Spray the leaves on each side with acrylic sealant.

preserve autumn leaves

Glycerin Method

The glycerin method allows leaves to remain pliable, flexible and colorful.
Supplies needed: colorful leaves, glycerin, water, flat pan or disposable plates, weight to keep leaves submerged


  • Mix the glycerin solution. The ratio should be one part glycerin to two parts water. Only about one cup (8 ounces) is necessary.
  • Fill a disposable plate or flat pan with the glycerin solution.
  • Add the leaves. Make sure there is enough solution to cover them completely.
  • Apply weight to keep leaves submerged. Allow them to soak for two to six days.
  • Dry the leaves with paper towels. They should feel flexible and pliable.

Wax Paper Method

The wax paper method is a classic, known to people who grew up in the Eastern United States.

Supplies needed: colorful leaves, wax paper, thin towel (or paper), iron, ironing board


  • Place the leaves between two sheets of wax paper.
  • Layer a towel or thick piece of paper on top of the wax paper.
  • Press with a warm iron for two to five minutes. Then turn over and press the other side.
  • Cut around each leaf. Leave some wax paper at the edges, so the leaves will stay safely sealed and preserved.

Contact us today to book a suite so that you can enjoy nature’s beauty. What do you think about these tips to preserve autumn leaves? Comment  below. We’d love to hear from you.

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About The Park on Main

The Park on Main hotel is located in the quaint village of Highlands, North Carolina, a picturesque mountain retreat nestled in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. A boutique style hotel, the Park on Main offers 24 luxury suites, each facing an exquisitely landscaped central park-like garden terrace.

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