guest in the NEIGHBORHOOD GARDEN today is Hope Robb.
Hope is a Master Gardener and well known as one of the premier
flower arrangers in Lincoln. Today she shares with us how to dry
flowers by hanging them in a dark, dry place.
She also has included a list of her favorite flowers, grasses,
and shrubs to dry and use in a dried arrangement.)
Everlastings - By Hope Robb
I became interested in this field when I saw a beautiful wreath
made by Edna Shields. I
had done fresh flower arranging but nothing like this. After one of
her classes I began experimenting myself.
She has been a great help to me.
dried flowers are names used interchangeably for plants that retain
their color and shape long after they have been harvested and dried.
Chemical desiccants and sand can be used to draw the moisture content
out of many leaves. The
microwave may also be used to dry plant materials.
Books are available concerning these methods.
everlastings I shall focus on are those which can be air dried simply
by hanging them in a dark dry place. This is the simplest method. The
rules for drying flowers are as follows:
Cut flowers before they
are completely open—semi-bud form, as they continue to open once
they have been cut.
Remove all leaves.
Hang them in small
bunches secured with a rubber band upside down in a dark dry place.
I use large paper clips which I have opened up.
One end I insert in the rubber band and the other I hang on a
line. I use my dark
garage to dry my plant material.
I’ve strung lines across the walls.
One could also use a dark dry attic.
Light will fade the colors.
With experience you can
determine the length of drying time.
exception is the Hydrangea. These
are harvested when most of the moisture is gone but before they start
turning brown. After cutting, place stems in a bucket with two-inches of
water. After this is
absorbed you need to turn a tall box upside down.
Punch holes in the bottom of the box and place the stems in the
holes with the heads resting on the box.
I also use
diluted glycerin to preserve Golden Rod (Solidago), Sweet Annie,
Northern Sea Oats (Briza), and Bradford Pear leaves on branches.
It gives them a soft pliable quality.
I use one part glycerin to three parts hot water.
Some people use two to one.
Mix solution well.
Pear branches, cut stem at angle for more surface absorption.
Place stems in solution. They
will turn a beautiful chocolate brown.
Length of time depends upon time of year you cut them, early
summer would be faster than early fall.
Size of branch would affect time also.
Remove from solution as soon as leaves turn a beautiful brown.
Leaving them too long makes them weepy and they cannot be used.
For the Sea
Oats and Sweet Annie I add a small amount of green food coloring.
The length of time is shorter for these, from a few hours to
overnight. You can see from the stem where the solution goes up.
Plant materials preserved using glycerin last for several
Gardeners Gladys Jeurink and George Edgar are generous with sharing
things from their gardens. Gladys’ poppies are always thick, so to
reach the sun, they twist and turn. One then has unusual twisted stems. They are wonderful in arrangements—especially Japanese. Put
a couple of those twisted seed heads and all you need at the base are
some large dried peonies. For
this you will need a Japanese container with a needle point holder.
One can arrange
beautiful bouquets using the materials you grew in your garden or ones
that friends and neighbors have given to you. For a summer look
incorporate colorful flowers with Misty Blue Limonium.
Add seeded Eucalyptus cascading down the front.
Tuck in a few nigella seed pods.
In the fall
there is nothing more striking than tall ornamental millet at the back
of the arrangement. Add glycerined Golden Rod and bright orange Bitter Sweet
cascading down the front. Mix some of the Bitter Sweet among the
flowers also. Accent the
base with the dark brown leaves of the glycerined Bradford Pear
leaves. You will need some filler material. Maybe some small bits of the Sweet Annie.
For accent add some fall seed pods.
arrangements use large baskets and fill with an abundance of the dried
plant material that you like. Mix flowers, filler materials and seed
pods. Always try to add
something bright to catch the viewer’s attention. There are many containers one may use.
wreaths, I use a glue pan, filled with melted glue.
I then dip my dried material in the pan and arrange the
material on the wreath. I divide it into thirds and start by placing
the same group in the different three parts and adding other groups to
this for a look of continuity. When
finished you can then add anything extra that you like.
It’s fun to have something special at the top, maybe bolder
colors or textures. Another
special touch is to cascade various plant materials to create a
draping effect at the bottom.
You may create
wreaths using the deep red-violet Crested Cockscomb (Celosia) and lots
of Misty Blue. Add seeded
Eucalyptus tucked in to lessen the deep color of the Cockscomb.
Wreaths done all in roses are very striking but require large amounts
of plant material. Group
roses in bunches at angles and fill in with the seeded Eucalyptus for
a stunning wreath. Seed
pods may also be added.
Or simply fill
a wreath with a mixture of the things you like.
Use different sizes of plant material, various textures, and a
variety of flowers, seed pods and fillers.
With time you will begin to develop a feel for arranging some
of your personal favorites. In
all my arrangements and wreaths I like a loose airy look.
I hope you will experiment and above all have fun!
I have listed
below some of the dried materials I use in my design work:
(I use these as fresh
material, allowing them to dry in the arrangements.)
Copyright Sept. 25, 2004