It is very rewarding when a flower you love dries out beautifully. It provides another chance to be creative, and allows you to arrange your flowers in new and different ways. The transformation from fresh to dried varies, at times the change is subtle, but it is often quite pronounced. Sometimes a rather boring fresh flower really comes into its own when it has dried. Everything deserves a second chance!
So much of floristry is based around fresh flowers, but as we all know, they only last a few days. It is wonderful to be able to create something that will last for a long time, especially when making a gift or something for the home.
There is not nearly the same choice of flowers during the winter months. Our solution is to stockpile summer flowers we have dried so that there are more options to work with out of season.
Another benefit of dried flowers and foliage is that they take spray paint and paint really well. Sometimes when we want to add a touch of colour to a project, we will spray a few of our dried materials. The advantage is that you can use any colour you like, and your project will look that little bit more unique.
Some of our favourite plants to dry out are big tropical leaves, such as fan palms. We always have a selection of these drying out in our studio. The shapes, colours and textures of these leaves when dried is wonderful; they are visually striking and work extremely well within the home.
There are many ways to dry flowers: air drying, pressing and sand drying are some of processes we use a lot. Air drying is the easiest technique to dry flowers. This can be as simple as hanging them upside down in bundles, but always make sure that the environment isn’t damp, as this will encourage bacteria to grow between the stems and the bundle will start to rot. Remember to strip flowers of any foliage before hanging them. A dark, well-ventilated room is the best place to air dry. Chicken wire grids are good for flowers with big heads. Simply place the stem through the holes with the flower heads balanced on top.
Little flower heads and small sprigs of foliage are ideal for pressing, and any leftovers provide a steady supply for the flower press. These look simple and pretty on invitations, dinner menus or greeting cards, and we are frequently asked for them.
Dried flowers work well when mixed with fresh flowers too. They can add a harder, spiky texture to any creation, giving it that something extra. Dried grasses are also good to use as they can provide a softer, more fluffy texture to work with.
Some of the flowers that we think look great when dried include mimosa, hydrangea, achillea ‘Parker’s Variety’, allium (ornamental onion), nigella (lovein-a-mist) pods, scabious, quaking grass, safflower, pampas grass, globe thistles, strawflower, sea lavender, fan palm and poppy pods.
Extract taken from Wreaths by Katie Smyth & Terri Chandler (Quadrille, $20.00).