I recently came home from a long trip and experienced what most gardeners feel after a prolonged summer absence from the garden: pure enchantment. Well and a little stress. The  garden had been left behind in tidy rows, small plants waiting for the warm sun to help them unfurl. After one month the summer heat had brought fruit, flowers, two foot long zucchini and some vigorous weeds along with it. Once I excavated everything out from under the gigantic weeds I found potatoes to dig, herbs to dry and a plethora of preservation projects ahead of me.

Luckily, it is not paste tomato season yet so there is time to work on other things. One of my main August goals will be to dry plenty of flowers. Everything is blooming now. I love having as many fresh bouquets around as possible but I also love having flowers around all year. Dried flowers can help bring a little summer beauty into the winter home.

You can preserve almost any flower, though there are some that lend themselves more readily to drying.  When picking a flower to dry I try to consider the water content of the plant. Plants like Statice and Strawflower are amazing to preserve because they start off with a lower water content then say a Dahlia has at harvest. This means they hold their shape and color quite well when dried. Grasses, grains, foliage from herbaceous perennials and herbs are other great choices for drying. Your imagination is the limit when it comes to what you can add to your everlasting floral arrangements. 

Harvesting flowers helps keep your plants producing blooms longer into the season. When you harvest flowers make sure to pick them as you would basil, cut the stem above a growth node.

Flower Drying Methods

There are many methods for drying your plant material. One of the easiest is to bunch your flowers and then hang the bunch upside down with twine. Choose a place with a decently stable temperature and that does not receive direct light: a closet, garage or barn. If you can not find a dark enough place to dry your flowers, take a paper bag and place the bouquet into the bag so that the cut ends are sticking out. Use a rubber band to secure the paper bag around the stems. This will make a nice dark space around the flowers. 

It is important that the flowers do not receive direct sunlight because this can cause the color to fade more rapidly. Direct light might also cause the flower to set seed instead of remaining in the state you picked it. Pick flowers before they are too far along in their bloom process to avoid this. 

You can also dry flowers on racks, in dehydrators and sometimes I dry them in cardboard shoe boxes because that helps cut down on storage space. Flowers dried on flat surfaces will have a flat side afterwards so consider what you want to do with the flowers before choosing one of these methods. 

Some of my favorite things to dry are basketflower, marigolds, strawflower, love-in-the mist pods and celosias. You can arrange the flowers into mixed posies and dry them like that or you can dry everything separately and arrange afterwards.

Wreaths are a popular dried arrangement. It takes quite a large number of flowers to make a full wreath. This is when the greenery and herbs come in handy. You can buy premade wreath forms or make them out of willow or grape vines. Making your own wreath forms allows you agency over the shape and size of your project. All you really need is twine or floral wire and some patience.  There are a lot of great tutorials for wreath making out on the internet and it proves to quickly be a fun relaxing activity.  

This week I am processing my garlic crop and plan to make garlic braids with the Inchelium that I grew. I will braid strawflowers, sage and statice in with the bulbs. Garlic braids are a really effective way to store garlic while still having it accessible in the kitchen. Why not make the braids even more romantic and dreamy by adding flowers? Short braids with just a few bulbs and flowers make really cute gifts for friends and family. 

 Happy harvesting!

~Taryn Hunter