How to make a bouquet of dried flowers
When you think of Valentine’s Day traditions, red roses are probably at the top of the list, along with a box of chocolates or a meal at a cozy restaurant. But no one needs to remember that this year has been anything but traditional. Maybe this Valentine’s Day is a good excuse to lean into the non-traditional and try something new. Uh, not fresh, as the case may be.
Dried flowers have made a comeback in recent years, in part thanks to their generally lower carbon footprint than their fresh counterparts, which are often shipped long distances in refrigerated trucks or planes.
“A lot of people have a preconceived idea of what dried flowers are,” said Rebecca O’Donnell, owner of The Quiet Botanist, a botanical apothecary and dried flower shop in Hudson, NY. These are not the dusty, drab arrangements of the past. Instead, they all aim to show off the lush textures that result from the drying process.
If you want to make your own bouquet, you can purchase dried flowers at many local flower shops, online from specialty companies, or directly from small growers like Sarah Haven of Catkin Flowers in Brunswick, Maine. Ms. Haven’s flowers go straight to a dark barn to dry after harvest, keeping the colors as vivid as possible without dyeing them. She got into the business after two friends asked her to do their wedding flowers. “They wanted something that would last longer than their wedding day,” Ms. Haven said.
The romantic longevity of a dried bouquet is just a bonus. Ms. O’Donnell points out that flowers can also change over time. “You can be creative and experiment,” she said. “In the spring you can add fresh flowers. You can add a little water and then let them decompose a bit. And to combat the inevitable dust, she said, “just use a hair dryer on very low speed or take them out and give them a shake.”
Worried that this is not correct? Its good. “If it’s a bit undone and not perfect, it’s more interesting,” Ms. O’Donnell said.
What to buy and where from:
Your local flower shop may stock dried flowers, but there are also several online stores with a wide variety. (If you don’t feel like trying your hand at a bouquet, there are many local and online stores that sell cute pre-made bouquets and can ship them as well.)
Start with five different elements and several stems of each. Aim for at least one of each of these four categories: tall, full, or soft rooms; delicate and textured stems; a bold statement flower; and herbs or greens as fillers. Gypsophila, or baby’s breath, is a favorite, or try caspia for a slightly more structured look. Rabbit tail grass or globe amaranth will give interesting shapes, and protea and banksia make nice statement options. Grocery stores often sell eucalyptus stalks, which are popular in dried arrangements and smell great, or Ms. O’Donnell suggests you can even look for fillers like cattails or wild herbs that grow in your area.
As a guide, your tallest pieces should measure about one to one and a half times the height of your vase.
What do you need:
Your selection of dried flowers and herbs
A pair of very sharp scissors
Create your own:
1. Use the masking tape to create a grid on the top of the vase. You will be placing the rods inside the grid, which will help your arrangement to stay in place.
2. Start with some of your tall, fuller stems to roughly define the shape you want your bouquet to take. If you find your stems to be really brittle, Ms. Haven suggests spraying them with a spray bottle while you work to give them a little more flexibility.
3. Add greenery that is similar or slightly shorter in height than your tall, full stems.
4. Place a few stems for your statement flowers. Try to place the first low enough in the vase and avoid perfect symmetry to keep things natural and modern. Play and see what looks good to you.
5. Look for empty spaces and add rods as needed.