The Return of Dried Flowers: seeds I'm sowing this year
I have a feeling, that this year is going to be a good one. Not just in my life and the things I have planned (which I know goes totally against the whole Brexit/the world is going to come crashing down thing) but also for my beloved dried flowers.
I’m beginning to hear soft whispers here and there, whispers of of the beauty of dried flowers, murmurs of the positives over their longevity vs fresh blooms amongst a few earnest voices (such as mine) telling others how they they are so much more than the ones you would find in a dusty corner of your great aunts house. Of course, I’ve known for a good few years how wonderful they are but even I had a wobble a year or so following an unsuccessful market that I won a stand at. At said market, I didn’t sell one thing, not one wreath or bunch of dried flowers. Many of the visitors to that market stopped to talk to me and I kept hearing the same thing, which were comments along the lines of “oh how sweet, dried flowers always remind me of my grandma”. I left that market completely down trodden, questioning what I was doing and if i anyone would ever embrace dried flowers as I have. Looking back and with hindsight (which is such a wonderful thing isn’t it?) it’s clear that it was completely the wrong market for me (know your audience people!) and that there are plenty of people out there who share my love of all things dried! And I am so happy that I persevered because I feel like dried flowers are about to have their moment in the spotlight and I can’t wait to show them off!
With that in mind, as we move through the mid winter and our minds start dreaming of spring and the abundance of flowers that come with it, I wanted to share with you the flowers and grasses that I intend to grow this year to dry. Some of these flowers can even be started off now in January which is such a good feeling!
First a word on me and how I grow! I have a very small urban garden that is edged with boarders as well has having a strip of a flower bed out the front which is blessed with full sun. In addition to that I have a half plot allotment really close by to my house, this is where I grow most of my flowers although this year I intend to utilise my garden more, simply because I need to grow more! I am the most disorganised grower known to man (hence why I will never be able to call myself a flower farmer), I’m like a magpie when it comes to buying seeds and often grow flowers for no reason other than being swayed by their seed packet picture - which there is nothing wrong with to most people but when you’re trying to grow a business and said flowers are a large part of that, well, that’s where I’ve been coming unstuck. This year, however, will be different. I have been very considerate about what I am growing this year, selecting only those flowers that I know will dry well and also look beautiful on the plot and in the garden, so fingers crossed I get it right!
Here is a list of my top flowers to grow for drying (it is by no means exhaustive - I’m saving that for my book):
Helicrysiums, strawflowers, everlastings! Which ever name you know them by, you will surely appreciate their never ending beauty. These blooms once dried retain their colour for years, making them a must have when it comes to any dried flower creation. And the choice in colours is improving each year, this year I am loving the white, silvery pink and deep pink variations alongside the more traditional oranges and yellows. These can be started off in January for early flowering.
Slightly more delicate than the traditional strawflower, I am attempting to grow some Acroclinium this year having failed for two years running. I adore the cheery dairy like flower heads that retain their colour beautifully and grow on the teeniest tiniest of stalks. I’m attempting white and pink this year!
So, truth be told, i have a bit of a love hate relationship with statice. It’s wonderful from a colour retention perspective and i seem to be able to grow it really easily BUT i find it quite hard to work with. The stems tend to be dead straight and rigid, whereas i prefer those flowers with movement and curves. That being said, they make a good solid addition to dried flower bunches and flowers crowns, so this year they have earned a space on my plot!
Or as many of you will know it, love in the mist, is such an easy plant to grow, plus its a prolific self seeder returning year after year. My allotment is absolutely covered in self seeded nigella seedlings and i have decided to allow them to do their thing, both the blooms and the seed heads can be dried and the seedlings that are growing now will offer me an early harvest so I can get at least two sowings on that section of the allotment. Plus they are a real favourite of mine for pressing, so i will get plenty of use out of them.
Oh how I love this grass! There is something quite magical about a swath of quaking grass softly swaying in a gentle breeze. A few years ago i sowed a strip on my allotment and that first year the grass heads were short and not very plentiful, but each year the stems get longer and whilst it does have the tendency to take over, now its established it offers me plenty of dried seed heads which I love adding to wreaths.
A wonderful addition to any garden or boarder, I bought a few plus plants from Sarah Raven a few years ago and whilst I had thought they were annuals, they seem to be withstanding our winters so far. A zingy lime green that will brighten your garden, the blooms and leaves turn a slightly duller green as they dry but they make a good filler to any bouquet or wreath. I tend to cut and dry them when the flowers are fully out, the seed head do also dry but i find them quite hard to work with.
Quite the crowd wouldn’t you agree? I am learning so much about dried flowers, which are the best to grow and provide value for money but also those that i enjoy working with. Hopefully statice will win me over this year!
if you’d like to learn more about dried flowers as well as having the opportunity to make your own dried flower wreath then i am running my first workshop of 2019, all the details can be found here if you’d like to join me and dive deeper into the beauty of preserved blooms.