Breathe new life into once-loved blooms and foliage by capturing their beauty in a seasonal wreath.
Words and styling Kahu de Beer. Photography Jane Keam
I would happily have flowers in every room of the house. I love their cheerful colours and the way they remind me of special times or people. The part I always find hard though is throwing them away once they die. I know their fleeting beauty is what makes them so special, but still, wouldn’t it be wonderful if they lasted forever?
I started keeping a few of my favourites that still looked really pretty in the vase even after they had ‘died’. I had some eucalyptus and proteas that faded to such beautiful soft hues that I couldn’t bring myself to part with them – they’re still gracing my dressing table now. This got me thinking about drying flowers: I love the way they look and feel when they dry out, all crispy and pastel coloured.
Like all the best things, dried flowers have come back into the spotlight in a big way. And with more of a focus on recycling these days, this trend makes a lot of sense. It also challenges our ideas of beauty; most people just throw flowers away once they’re done with them, but by drying them you’re creating a whole different but equally beautiful look.
I decided to make a wreath with some dried seasonal flowers and foliage to hang in my house. Being part of the process from start to finish made me realise just how enjoyable it is to create something yourself, and much more rewarding than buying it ready-made.
Flowers that dry well
- Peony poppies
- Sea Holly
- Toi Toi
- Bells of Ireland
These are just a small selection. What’s on offer will depend on the season but there’s lots of choice. You may be surprised by what you can use that’s right on your doorstep. I made my wreath base from a vine that’s growing on our fence and some elements were foraged from gardens (with permission). Herbs dry nicely too and add the most beautiful scents.
How to dry flowers
Tightly bind together groups of flowers/foliage with at least six inches left on the stem. Hang them upside down in a dry, well-ventilated area out of direct sunlight. You will be able to see them drying out and changing form and colour into delicate hues. They usually take 2-3 weeks to dry.
How to construct your wreath
Begin by making (or purchasing) a wreath frame using dried-out vines such as ivy, willow branches, or grapevine. Wind it around itself to form a circle, using as much as you need to get to your desired thickness. Secure using wire if needed.
Once your frame is complete, you’re ready to attach your foliage and/or flowers; use either dried or fresh as long as they are plant varieties that dry well. The best flowers for drying are ones that are already papery and will dry quickly. I dried my flowers first by hanging them from our ceiling in the lounge, where they were also pretty to look at.
The next step is to assemble. There are no rules, it’s up to you how you want to do it depending on the look you’re going for. I divided up my flowers and foliage into bunches and then threaded the stems through my wreath base one or two at a time, using floral wire to attach and reinforce. Continue this process, moving a few inches down the frame at a time, keeping the blooms facing in the same direction. Cover the whole wreath or just parts.