I spent a lot of time as a kid mesmerized by a picture frame in my mother’s living room. It wasn’t even about the photo but rather, the frame itself. Pressed between two panes of glass, were flowers neatly preserved and somewhat yellowed around the 5x6 photo of my sister and I when we were small. Baby’s breath, tiny morning glories, and what I have to believe were snap dragons or the heads of carnations filled the border.
As we grew up, my sister and I were heavily encouraged to be creative and work on art projects at the kitchen table with whatever we could come up with. We learned to make paper chains, beaded alligators, and eventually, how to dry and press the contents of our front yard.
The childhood obsession of preserving special flowers or the first 'Really Good Leaf' of the year (it had to be bigger than your face) is still very present in my adult routines. Bouquets from birthdays, roses from old boyfriends, and celebratory arrangements have all been dried and held onto. My current drying methods are tried and true for blooms and herbs alike.
When drying your grows, I think it’s especially important to enjoy your fresh cut harvest for as long as you can. I’ll trim my fresh flowers by an inch or more to help them draw up more moisture, and enjoy them for a week or two depending on the variety. When I see a few petals drop, I monitor the vase more closely for signs of drooping, which typically occurs around day ten.
Now, the fun begins.
- Remove your blooms from their water source.
- Gather a bit of twine (kitchen twine is fine, but I prefer a more rustic hemp for texture) and wrap either end of the twine in opposite directions of each other with at least 3 inches of stem at the end. If preserving your flowers for display, pick a “front” and a “back” prior to wrapping.
- Make a tight knot, secured around the “back” if applicable.
- Hang the bouquet to dry in a well aerated space. I either hang them from a nail over the entryway to my kitchen or from the handle of a kitchen cabinet. NEVER, hang undried flowers on their display wall directly, you may permanently stain the surface!
But what do I DO with dried flowers?
Once dried, you’re welcome to preserve the aromatics on your wall.
Make potpourri by tapping or gently squeezing the base of blooms, or use a Herb Pull & Pinch dish to strip dried stems of small leaves. Store in a tightly-sealed glass to pull out and mix with seasonal spices to go the extra mile.
A quick guide to spice blends: Boil a small amount of water on the stove along with the contents below. Reduce to a low simmer and enjoy the aroma.
SPRING: Sage, Rosemary, Olive leaf, Peony is the best pairing.
SUMMER: Eucalyptus, Mint, Hydrangea is the best pairing.
FALL: Cinnamon, Whole Star Anise, Pine Cone or Fir Bark, Roses are the best pairings.
WINTER: Orange, Pomegranate, Rosemary, Cloves, Dried Red Hypericum is the best pairing.
Second lives are a big deal in my house. I’m all about upcycling and treating myself when I have the time and budget to do so. So, if I can swing Trader Joe's flowers once a month and inevitably dry them to use in the following, I call that an absolute win.