As we approach winter, UK-grown flowers disappear and we get even more imported and chemically-enhanced flowers, or those grown in heated greenhouses, all of which cost our environment and our pocket.
Penny Hemming, head gardener at the Riverford Field Kitchen, explains how to make your own sustainable, colourful alternative – dried flowers and become part of a growing movement to bring UK-grown, seasonal flowers to the fore.
Dried flowers help to capture and extend the beauty of the previous seasons. They have become more popular in recent years, but most people probably buy them still instead of growing and drying their own. But in fact, it’s simple to do it yourself and great if you are into crafts.
How to dry flowers
It’s best to pick flowers for drying when they are at their peak. You want them to retain their full, bright colour, so picking just before they are fully opened is a good idea.
Gather them together in small bunches and tie them with string.
Choose an area where they are warm but not in direct sunlight – a north facing room perhaps – not where the temperature fluctuates (such as a shed or garage) and not in an airing cupboard, as the flowers become too crisp.
At the Field Kitchen, we hang them on our restaurant wall or I hang them in my kitchen. Just attach string or wire to your wall and hang the bunches upside down.
They only take one to two weeks to dry and then you can either store them in boxes, leave them on the wall as decoration, or you can start creating:
- Create a beautiful floral arrangement and place in a vase
- Make a wreath
- Secure in a frame to make a picture
What flowers work for drying?
There is so much variety in what flowers to grow for drying; it’s really good to experiment and just see what works. Here are some of my favourites:
Poppy – you can dry the petals, but it’s the seed heads that work best
Nigella – again for the seed pods
Herbs such as oregano – picked just before it goes into flower
Ornamental grasses such as millet
Old Man’s Beard
Even weeds, such as dock, can add texture to your arrangement