It’s flower drying season!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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,
Katie xx

 

We love, love, love, Love To Eat!

You may not have discovered York’s newest and tastiest place to be yet, and frankly I’m not at all sure I should be sharing it with you, since it will inevitably mean there’ll be no room for me on a Saturday morning to enjoy a leisurely coffee and cake.  However, in the interests of cake-sharing, I’ll let you in on the secret – as long as you promise to share your table.

I first met the lovely Louise Brogan-Hewitt, food fanatic, new cafe owner and maker of the most fantastically squidgy and naughty brownies this side of the moon a while ago when we met up for a glass of wine in town.  It became obvious to me straight away that not only was Louise passionate about good food, but that she was also determined to create a place for local people to meet, in the most welcoming surroundings you could hope to find.

Tempting Love To Eat cupcakes
Tempting Love To Eat cupcakes

Well, Louise hosted the Grand Opening of Love To Eat last weekend (and asked Hello Vintage to supply the china!), and I am happy to say she’s achieved it all!

Around 50 people headed down to the cafe in Dringhouses to enjoy some delicious treats made by Louise and her team including almond mince pies, and the aforementioned brownies, as well as some still-warm-from-the-oven blue cheese tartlets with my favourite Yorkshire Blue cheese, yum!  All this was washed down with some warming mulled wine, served in our vintage china, and we met some lovely people – including Louise’s auntie who charmed us all, and who you can see enjoying herself below!

I should also mention that there are plenty of reasons to visit Love To Eat other than the food – Louise is also the only stockist of Rebecca Downes, purveyor of gorgeous vintage homeware textiles including fabulously frilly aprons inspired by 40’s & 50’s designs that will make baking a joyous experience.  If antiques are more your thing, you’ll be pleased to hear that the furniture in the shop is all for sale too – from solid country kitchen style chairs to vintage cabinets painted in decadent colours and an old desk which took me back in time!

We’ll be blogging more about Louise in the future, since we’re planning some future events together……but we’re keeping schtum for now! 

So in the meantime, pop and say hello to Louise – Love To Eat is open Monday – Friday 8am-5.30pm and on Saturdays from 9am-4pm, so I’ll see you down there – I’ll be the one in the corner, guarding my seat….

Christmas at Love To Eat - pop in and pick up some treats for your foodie friends.
Christmas at Love To Eat - pop in and pick up some treats for your foodie friends.
Tempting treats on one of our handmade vintage cake stands - plus Louise's grandma who kept us entertained!
Tempting treats on one of our handmade vintage cake stands - plus Louise's auntie who kept us entertained!
Louise at the Love To Eat opening event with another happy customer
Louise at the Love To Eat opening event with another happy customer

Creative FLARE

OK, so hands up if you’re still Christmas shopping.  Be honest now.  Yes, I thought so, me too!

I don’t have masses of people to buy for – so for me, it’s even more important to get my family and friends something I know they will treasure, something personal and maybe even totally unique.  What this means of course, is that high street shopping is out, and the hunt for that perfect gift is ON!

If you’re facing the same dilemma and you’re in the York area this Sunday, I’m going to play at being your Christmas Angel and let you know about FLARE, my very favourite craft fair in York, which holds it’s final market of 2010 on 28 November.

Whether you’re on the look out for a small stocking filler or are planning on pushing the boat out, if you Y homemade, you’re pretty much guaranteed to find something special.

There’s a glorious selection to choose from, including ceramics, brooches and buttons, prints, photography and textiles – all handmade of course. Frankly, the FLARE poster below only gives the merest hint of all the gorgeous treats you can pick up….

FLARE
FLARE

…….and since you’re asking, I’d be the opposite of disappointed to find one of these fabulous crochet scarfs by Donna Taylor under the tree on Christmas morning………

Donna Taylor's Curly Wurly Crocheted Scarves
Donna Taylor's Curly Wurly Crocheted Scarves
Enjoy! x