Everyone who knows me knows I love the changing of the seasons. When it’s dark and cold in the new year, I am desperate for the first flowers of the season and the changing of the clocks, when my poor old pasty English skin has had enough of summer, I long for crisp autumn mornings.
One of my favourite things to do at this time of year is to dry flowers ready to create displays; my personal favourites being hydrangeas, seed heads, honesty and Chinese lanterns.
I have a couple of the latter in our garden, but I have to be honest and say that they did not do particularly well this year, having been in a neglected part of the garden, so my mum saved me some from their garden (from a plant I gave them, I might add!) and they are just gorgeous.
I will be using them, alongside my usual stash of hydrangeas, at shows this year and to make dried Christmas wreaths. Assuming you keep them indoors or in a porch that doesn’t get much exposure to the elements and that they are stored properly in a box with tissue paper and bubblewrap, you can re-use dried wreaths again the following year.
I find the colours much more in keeping with the time of year than the many brash primary colours you see in shops and I will post some pictures once that time of year comes around so you can how easy it is to make them yourself.
Unlike the lanterns and honesty, you really do need to take hydrangea flowers from the plant to dry. Timing is everything and my best advice is to keep running your fingers along the petals every day until you can feel them take on a papery quality – you’ll know the day they’re ready, I promise! Try to leave a decent stem – a minimum of 4 or 5 inches ideally, taking off the leaves once you’ve cut them, so that you’ve got plenty still left to cut when you’ve decided what you’d like to do with them once they’re dried.
Others have advocated drying them upside down to retain colour, but I generally place one or two stems in a bottle or rose bowl up on a shady shelf somewhere with an inch or so of water and leave them alone until they’re completely dry. The woody stems remain really quite hard, so they can be easily poked into oasis or chicken wire or even willow wreaths without causing too much damage to the petals. The colours can be really spectacular and vary wildly even when taken from the same plant.
This year, I also decided to save some lovely pink delphinium which were part of a bouquet I received from a friend in July and I’m very happy to say they dry beautifully! They are incredibly delicate – one puff of wind or over-handling and the petals would be on the floor! As the bouquet started to fade, I took these out and put them in one of my lemonade bottles (LOVE these), without water, without cutting the stems.
As you can see – delphiniums really keep their colour, which was a nice surprise and something I will remember for next year, assuming the dreaded slugs don’t decimate my plants as they did this year (check out the hostas in the background of the picture above – I HATE snails!!).
If you don’t have lots of space to dedicate to flower drying, but like the look, I can highly recommend Nkuku’s kiko frames, which are ideal for displaying petals and smaller flowers whilst drying. Because they’re glass, you can just wipe clean any ‘bleed’ that comes from the flowers and it would be a nice way to keep wedding flowers or confetti alongside other special bits from the day that aren’t really suitable for traditional frames.
You can find lots of different ideas and methods of drying on our ‘Floral’ board over on pinterest, but not all these ideas will work for you – I, for instance, have tried many many times to dry flowers upside down, but I honestly find I get the best results when I just leave them alone. If you can give me any tips for retaining the colour in roses, I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Feel free to leave your own hints and tips below for other people to try.
Thanks for reading,