Preserving flowers in Sussex
Our Sussex workshop is not glamorous, being an old mechanics workshop, but it has character, being part of an old Victorian stable block. It has a hayloft, and even the original drainage channels in the floor. But best of all for us, it has plenty of beams for hanging up bunches of flowers to dry.
Experiments in drying
The blooms I hang up come in three categories – popular ones I’ve used before; tricky blooms, and the third category – experiments.
The photo above shows asters drying alongside billy buttons (craspedia). The billy buttons always dry well, but the asters looked great then dropped their petals after a few weeks!
Popular dried flowers
Popular blooms I dry regularly include gypsophila, billy buttons, sea lavender, eryngium, celosia and statice.
The image above shows blue eryngium thistles and purple sea lavender (limonium).
White gypsophila, baby’s breath, is really useful for wedding bouquets, flower crowns and table decorations, and dries to a delicate ivory colour.
These include bunches I’m confident in drying but may not have a market for, or blooms that just won’t co-operate! Previous attempts in this field include feverfew (they dry easily but look a little scruffy), cornflowers (the petals are too brittle), coloured achillea (I tried coloured varieties because yellow Achillea Parker is very reliable dry, but the other colours faded unfortunately) and astrantia (too expensive to sell).
The image above shows my experiments a few years ago, drying cornflowers in my airing cupboard
Trying something new
Then there’s the third category, which appeals to my scientific nature (my training was in chemistry before a career change twenty years ago) – seeing what will dry. This year I’ve been trialling carnations, asters (see top images), wild carrot, amaranth and pink gyp amongst others.
Celosia dried well, cerise carnations took a long time to dry, and purple statice is popular and reliable.
Wild carrot seed heads picked from my garden dried well.
Pink gypsophila was a successful experiment for us this year – this is a product photo ready for our dried flower shop – the few bunches we had sold out within a week. The amaranth was popular too – look out for more next year.
2023 update – I’m still making dried flowers by hanging up in my workshop :)