To be honest, there was a time when we didn’t fully appreciate the beauty and versatility of dried flowers. They had a bit of a reputation — think dust and chintz — but their popularity has recently skyrocketed. You’ll see dried flower designs in swanky hotel lobbies whilst brides carry dried bouquets down the aisle. For us, dried flowers being fashionable helps us to reach a wider audience but we’ve fallen back in love with them for different reasons.
When the pandemic hit and weddings were cancelled, we didn’t want our flowers going to waste so we started drying them. We enjoyed watching their lush petals slowly curl and dry, colours soften and textures come alive. Caring and creating with dried flowers is different too. There is no rush to get them into water and because they are delicate and fragile, we work slowly and more carefully. We predominantly use them through the autumn and winter months, when our plot is dormant. We create dried flower autumn wreaths for the home, add them to our foliage wreaths at Christmas, pop them in buttonholes and wired work (perfect for when stems need to be out of water) and recently arranged intricate designs to be displayed under a glass dome.
Drying flowers needn’t be difficult…
Dried flowers needn’t be difficult as long as you choose ones you know dry well. We began drying reliable favourites like Statice, Echinops, Allium, Amaranthus, Helicrysum, Lavender and grasses. Our favourite grasses are bunny’s tail, quaking grass and frosted explosion. Later we experimented with drying Ranunculus, Zinnia, Nigella and Dahlias. Now, we’ll pretty much dry anything, our motto is ‘give it a go!’ We found the books Everlasting by Bex Partridge and Cut & Dried by Caroline Dunster really helpful.
We cut fresh flowers when they are at their peak, in full bloom but when the petals have not yet turned. For seed heads wait until they mature on plants before cutting. It’s best to avoid cutting grasses when they are green and fresh, wait until they turn golden. We found the best method is to air-dry upside down. Prepare the flowers by stripping unwanted foliage, sometimes we leave a bit of foliage around the flower as it’s a more natural appearance. Tie a bunch of flowers securely together with string as they shrink as they dry and hang up.
We follow three rules when drying flowers – low light, normal heat and dry air
We follow three rules when drying flowers – low light, normal heat and dry air . To prolong their life flowers are best stored in a dark place, as light will bleach the colour out eventually. The space you hang them should be of a normal temperature, if the area is too hot stems can become brittle. It is really important to dry flowers in a space with little moisture in the air. We use a dehumidifier to ensure the correct humidity. If moisture gets in, flowers can become mouldy.
Larger head flowers such as sunflowers or rudbeckia can be dried upright in a metal riddle or chicken wire secured to a frame. The stems are poked through the mesh until the heads of the flower rests on it. Another technique is drying flowers in a vase. Hydrangeas have responded particularly well to this. Cut them, strip the foliage and leave in a vase with a tiny amount of water. The flower takes up the water and then slowly dries upright.Once dried, flowers can remain hung for decoration or transferred to storage boxes with tissue paper and stored in a dark, dry space until you need them. Bring them into a normal humidity before using them. This is called ‘conditioning’.
We hope you may be inspired to try drying flowers from your own garden, or visit our plot this summer and you can pick a fresh selection perfect for preserving. Or, join us on one of our Autumn Dried Flower Wreath workshops