Monday, September 12, 2016

Vintage Posies: How to Dry Flowers

Fall is in the air and soon our flower gardens will be put to slumber. Yet, it's not too late to keep enjoying the garden's posies through the rest of the winter. 

Thank goodness I have never become a member of the "PSF" - Plastic and Silk Flower Fan Club (Okay, I made that up). Ugh - and do not get me started on those outdoor pots filled with plastic posies. You ain't fooling anyone (done with rant). So what is the alternative when you can't have fresh flowers in every pot and you don't want to be shunned by me? Dried flowers. 

Dried flowers are the real thing, and look quite charming in unique and non-traditional vessels, such as tucked in an antique bird cage, the opening of a large candlestick holder, canning jars, crocks, old trophy cups, doily-lined wooden boxes and baskets, silver condiment bowls; and even twined together and placed on the fireplace mantle or staircase railing. Perhaps just hanging upside down in a bundle from a rafter or even an old clothes drying rack. The muted shades of dried flowers, and especially the former white and light pink flowers, look so "vintage" in their muted sepia tones.



Silk and plastic flowers can be washed (Ugh - silk and plastic flowers. Okay, done with rant), but the dried flower is just as easy to maintain. If the dried flower arrangement gets too dusty, toss them after a few seasons and start over; or use a feather duster, hair dryer (low heat) or a can of compressed air to remove the dust. Always best to do this outdoors or in the garage so the dust doesn't land somewhere else in the house. 

It's easy to dry flowers: by hanging the longer stem flowers upside down in bunches, or let them dry naturally in a vase with a bit of water until the water evaporates and the flowers are dried, or use a special drying treatment of silica gel (purchased at most hobby-craft shops) and similar treatments. I have heard that some people use silica kitty litter, but I don't want to confuse my kitty-boy, Nash. What I have used to dry flowers? A box of powdered Borax (see video), and as per the video you can also add cornmeal to the mix. 



For hanging flowers, bundles of lavender, statice, babies breath, long stem roses, hydrangea, and peonies (buds and half-blooms) work best. Secure the bundled stems with a rubber band or twine. Hang upside down in a well ventilated area and out of the sun. 

To be honest, I have never used the silica gel, and have heard of ways to dry flowers using silica gel with an oven or microwave to get quick results (if you have, please chime in). It's just that I have never been in a hurry to dry flowers, and just enjoyed the process. My experience has been drying delicate flowers in plain Borax (no cornmeal added), or either simply placed them on a paper towel and let them dry in a well ventilated area. 

It's easy to use the Borax. Obtain a sturdy gift box (shirt size works perfect) and line the bottom of the box with wax paper or parchment. Pour in the Borax, and bury the chosen flowers very carefully, and let dry in a dark area for about 10 days or more. Don't discard that box top as it will come in handy for later storage. You can use the Borax over and over... In fact, the dried flowers I have not used for projects are just kept on top of the layer of Borax. Once each flower has dried, I use a small craft paint brush to dab any of the remaining Borax dust from the petals. I have dried miniature rosebuds, primroses, violets, pansies, violas, and daisies with great success.



Any dried petals that have separated or fallen from the flower? Don't toss. Make potpourri! Combine with other dried flowers and use a variety of seasonal items such as: pine cones, twigs, pods, acorns, bay leaves, whole cloves, and dried orange peels or apple slices. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oils for the fragrance. Place in a unique container and it makes for a pretty coffee table centerpiece. 



Don't have a garden to glean from, then stop by the market and pick up a bouquet of posies, especially soft shades of roses are perfect to dry. Keep them in the vase you originally chose to show off their beauty. Once they start wilting, pour most of the water out, leaving about an inch, and just let the water evaporate as the roses dry. A bundle of statice makes a quaint country-style arrangement in an old canning jar, and I am reminded of it with every visit to Seattle's Pike Place Market where the same woman has been there for the last 30-some years selling dried bundles of colorful statice. In fact, I am due for a new bundle. 

Okay - okay, while I am not a fan of silk flowers, I will admit a few of the softer shades of silk tucked around several dried roses and peonies would make for a beautiful arrangement. Some of the pretty crepe-paper roses are perfect and blend well with the dried, as well. 

Now, get to dryin'! 

*Photos from Pinterest. 

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