Helichrysum Dried Flowers

Dried Flowers for Wild Garden Style Floristry

In Fierce Cutting Garden by Fierceblooms8 Comments

WORDS: Kathryn Cronin PHOTOS: Ricky Bache
Using dried flowers is an notable aspect of wild garden style floristry. The last time I grew flowers for drying in any quantities was back in the last century. I have made myself laugh with that factually correct statement.

Everything comes and goes and so it appears now is the time for a revival of all things dried and floral. Some associate dried flowers with Laura Ashley and 1980s kitsch but I have always really loved the shape and texture dried flowers add to any design.

It was after visiting Cotehele a couple of years ago that I decided I would grow some of the contents of that inspiring dried floral garland that has been decorating the hall there for hundreds of years. I adore that tradition. No nod to fashion trends there then I thought, just heritage and continuity that if we take insufficient care over, we are in danger of losing.

Two and half trees of pittosporum are used as the base of this breathtakingly beautiful garland. I’ll need to wait a few years until my wee pittosporum shrubs are a bit bigger for that. In the meantime I have started by growing 2 of my favourite dried flower ingredients, limonium suworowii and helichrysum.

Both have grown well in my cutting garden with a bit of feeding and a decent amount of light although neither are in full sun. In all honesty the issue is going to be finding places to dry them as already I can see these dried flowers are going to be, as my other half so eloquently puts it, “space occupying”. That said, it will be no time at all before I’ll start to use it to create my own smaller wreath versions of the Cotehele garland. Although my wreaths will be smaller, they will be wild none the less. Limonium that dries in twists and turns provides fabulous movement and with the pops of colour provided by the dried helichrysum, I am looking forward to hanging one on my front door already.

Beware of cutting your helichrysum when the flowers are fully open. Cut them when they have reached a good size but are still closed. Believe you me, they will open out more than you can imagine when you hang them up for drying and if they are too open they will just open too much.

There are a number of floral designers who use dried plant materials in their designs including their bouquets. Sarah Winward, Amy Osaba, Zita Elze and Tammy of WildBunch all use elements that have been dried alongside the living fresh florals. Dried plant material provides an ethereal quality to the design. Dried flowers bring that elusive “something” to an arrangement. A couple of obvious ones that I use all the time are honesty and nigella seed heads but there are many many more.

Wild garden style floristry is all about combining the artistry of design with the inspiration that comes from nature. Always there is life and death and so it is with wild garden style florals. I have started to use dried snowberry branches in many of my pieces as they have a wonderful curved flow to their twigs that are both beautiful and practical. In a strange way that I am unable to reason, dried florals seem to bring a life to the fresh florals in a way that foliage alone is unable to do.

There is another reason to grow dried flowers for cutting. When all is grey and cold and dull, when there there is precious little else in the sleeping winter hedgerows, their colour lifts the spirit. For that reason alone, I will be growing more of them again next year.

It was after visiting Cotehele a couple of years ago that I decided I would grow some of the contents of that inspiring dried floral garland

I encourage you to grow some flowers for drying. It provides an excellent opportunity to have crop for selling in winter albeit one that will require some storage from growing in the summertime.

Read more from Fierceblooms on the floristry blog.

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Comments

  1. A very thoughtful post Kathryn. I meant to sew helichrysums this year and didn’t get round to it. Remember being enchanted by them as a child. A recent drying love are hydrangea heads. I love the way the petals change and take on wonderful speckled dusky hues as they dry. My mother passed on a lot of her flower books and many of the dried arrangements have a very stiff formality and dated look about them. Maybe memories of those things are off putting. A revival with a twist is what I’d like. Now I must go and salvage my seedheads in the garden before it rains again.

    1. Fierceblooms Author

      Hi Angela – great to hear from you. Yes hydrangea is really wonderful- need to cut it at the right moment for it to work. I agree that the books are a little of their time so definitely looking to bring dried flowers into the 21 century- thanks so much for your comment

  2. thanks for this post. I like to use dried material in the winter and am always on the lookout for good info on best plants to use. I love how you give the full plant names making it easier to find. My poor hydrangeas have had a bad attack of vine weevil this year so I am looking to try alternatives for next year in case the nematodes don’t work. Off now to have a look at Chiltern seeds and Higgledy garden to see what lovely’s they have to tempt me.

    1. Fierceblooms Author

      Thanks Maggie – oh your poor hydrangeas – yes I give them their official titles as always looking out for that detailed information myself- bought my seed from Chlitern although have bought from Higgledy too

  3. Your post made my day! I’d never heard of the Cotehele garland and when I looked it up online, my jaw dropped. Thank you for providing such wonderful inspiration through your blog. Were there any other photos of your designs with dried flowers, or just the one with the helichrysum and hat?

    1. Fierceblooms Author

      Hi Jenny- your comment has made mine 😊 I took us on a major detour coming back up north to see it – all I can say is to see it for real is absolutely magnificent- a truly magical thing- on the design front I made a bouquet for the Nantwich show that’s on my Instagram feed with some dried nigella and poppy seed heads. I’ve also designed a pink bridal bouquet with dried cow parsley and dock – in fact most things I do have something dried to be honest- what about your designs? Do you include dried material?

      1. I grow many things that dry well. Mostly I make fresh bouquets for sale at our local Farmers Market, and the flowers that are leftover get hung up and dried. ( It helps with the difficulty I have of heaping those beautiful blooms onto the compost pile. Every bloom must be saved!) On rainy days or late autumn days I make wreaths and a new item that is like a dried flower mandala. (wish I could insert a pic here, but don’t see that as an option). I love the idea of there being a dried flower revival and updating designs from the traditional stiff/formal past. I’ve also lately been inspired to learn and revive the ‘corn dolly’ or wheat weaving craft. I love the roots of that tradition having a spiritual side of intention and ceremony to give thanks for the harvest and blessing for the season ahead.

        1. Fierceblooms Author

          How funny- I’ve also been looking into the corn dolly tradition- love it too – would be great to see your mandala- do you have an Instagram account?

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