Traditional recipes

Use These Flowers for Simple Spring Arrangements

Use These Flowers for Simple Spring Arrangements

Believe it or not, spring is here, offering a fresh and inspiring array of new flowers. Boston florists rely on the giddiness of customers who have waited for months to see the snow disappear. In the beginning of March, Exotic Flowers’ coolers are wiped clean of winter floral staples and revamped into a visual presentation that is sure to inspire anyone who walks through the doors. We select varieties that express the rebirth of spring in New England and utilize species accustomed to these seasonal changes. Although we continue to carry roses and hydrangeas year round, our business concentrates on the regional changes of floral agriculture. With suppliers both local and international, we can provide clientele with a higher range of creativity and originality within our pieces, and pride ourselves on expertly swapping the color, texture, and fragrance of our selections. Although there are thousands upon thousands of spring blossoms to choose from, we certainly have our favorites to look forward to.

Sweet Peas

Sweet peas are available for export into the United States for a good portion of the year from Holland and Japan, but these delicate beauties put on their best performance during the spring. Sometimes referred to as the queen of annuals, they are also cultivated throughout the state in both professional greenhouses and recreational gardens when the climate is temperate. Our buyer hunts for shades that will fit both the customary pastel spectrum as well as ones that will pack a “pop” of color when mixed within bouquets. Lavender, purple, peach, hot pink and red are the most requested colors that turn an everyday arrangement into a masterpiece.

Hyacinth

Hyacinth is high on the list during our weekly runs to the Boston Flower Exchange because of their sweet fragrance, their capacity to fill a vase, and the interesting texture that the bulb manifests. They rank as one of the most-requested flowers during the months of March, April, and May, partly because of tradition — they are associated with New England gardening — and partly due to the sheer enjoyment of watching the unique bells open within vases. These popular beauties are ordered more than any other early farmed flower.

Peonies

The floral business is driven by spring weddings, and peonies are just the trick for providing brides with dreamy, breathtaking bouquets. Deriving from the Paeonia family, the heads accentuate a sensational aroma from dainty petals flowing from the center (shades of pink are the most fragrant) that overlap one another to appear as cushioned as a puffy blanket. We love the “cabbage size roses” because they’re grown in every color, with the exception of blue, and are frequently offered by nearby growers — which explains their longevity. Top varieties that we adore are Sarah Bernhardts, Red Charms, and Coral Supremes.

Some fun facts: We often use peonies in our special arrangements for new mothers because they are said to cure pain associated with childbirth. Those couples heading towards their twelfth anniversary should also take note, since the peony is the floral symbol associated with this impressive milestone.

Are you ready for the new season of flowers?

Exotic Flowers:

by Rick Canale, florist on BloomNation and Owner of Exotic Flowers in Boston, Massachusetts

Exotic Flowers in Boston, Massachusetts is a family-owned and -operated business that specializes in personalized service. Their sales staff offers over 100 years of experience in the floral industry, and their flowers generate a "reaction guaranteed." Exotic Flowers is a florist on BloomNation, the world’s largest online floral marketplace of over 3,000 top artisanal florists hand-delivering nationwide.


Simple Spring Decorating Ideas

Refresh your home for spring with these beautiful and easy spring decorating ideas, including 27 home tours that bring spring decor inspiration for every style. From the living room to the front porch, find tips for when you should start decorating for spring and some great ideas for decorating on a budget.


Spring Boredom Busters: Activities for Kids

Keep little ones busy with these spring boredom busters! These spring activities for kids will help build creative muscles and give them plenty of opportunities for open play.

Dyed Rubber Eggs (STEM Activity)

Take an everyday egg, and turn them rubber with nothing more than vinegar and food coloring! We do this one every year&mdashit&rsquos a family favorite! Not only do my kids love playing with their creations, but it&rsquos a fantastic STEM project where they can learn about the science behind it all.

Adorable Egg Carton Chicks

Looking for an affordable Easter activity for kids? Look no further than this cute chick craft made from egg cartons!

Salt Dough Flower Magnets

Pretty meets practical in this salt dough magnet craft! Let your kids help make the dough, shape out the flowers, and paint them. Then, display their handiwork on the fridge for all to see!

Sprout Seeds in a Sponge Garden

What could be a better spring activity for kids than to start planting? This simple sponge garden is the perfect way to show your kids how plants grow. Once the weather warms up, move your garden outside and let your children have the joy of caring for their own garden!

Make Bottle Cap Flowers

Some bottle caps and acrylic paint are easily transformed into mix-and-match flower petals that your children will spend hours playing with!

Make a Spring Sensory Bottle

Sometimes it&rsquos the simplest things that keep kids entertained. Forget the fancy gadgets and make this sensory bottle! You can make this spring boredom buster with items found around your home &ndash it&rsquos easy!

Make (and Play With!) Fluffy Easter Slime

This fluffy Easter slime is the perfect way to entertain your flock for hours! Not only can they help mix it up, but then they&rsquoll play the day away.

Create Easter Egg Sun Catchers

If you have little artists at home like I do, they will absolutely love coloring these beautiful sun catchers. Then, let them proudly display their creations in the window where sun turns this Spring boredom buster into a masterpiece.

Make a Tic, Tack, Toe Garden with Pom Poms

You&rsquod be hard-pressed to find a game more classic than tic, tack, toe! Not only is this game universally appealing, it&rsquos easy too! Make it a spring activity for kids by swapping out DIY pom pom chicks and bunnies for typical Xs and Os.


Step 2: Cut and prepare flowers.

After arriving home with your flowers, you might be tempted to begin arranging right away. However, there are some important steps to take to prepare flowers and make them last longer. First, remove extra leaves and damaged petals from stems. If there are unwanted buds on the same stem as a full flower, cut those off as well. Once the stems are cleaned up, make a fresh diagonal cut to the bottom of the stems. Put the trimmed stems into a vase or bucket of water (this doesn&apost have to be your final vessel) with cut flower food.


Secret #3: Add Texture with Sticks!

Seriously. After you pick out a POP focus flower, a tall flower, and a filler flower you must search for a “stick” to finish it off!

Sticks add texture and give the flowers a funky vibe. I love them!

Finish the floral centerpiece by covering the top of the Dry Foam Blocks* with Green Moss*.

Green moss is one of my favorite crafting supplies! I’ve used it for a moss covered basket and a St. Patrick’s Day Leprechaun Hat for our front door.

This colorful floral arrangement has been moved all around our house as a decorate for different holidays and occasions.

It was originally created for our Steeplechase Horse Race party a few years ago. It’s has also been used in a tutorial for mantel decorating ideas for Spring. Right now it is sitting in the middle of our dining room table waiting for our Easter dinner guests!

Follow these 3 Secrets for How to Make a Floral Arrangement for your home decorating!

You will love the pop of color flowers add to your home decor. They are perfect for floral centerpieces, wedding flower ideas, and so much more!

Full Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and/or is a sponsored post. I may receive compensation in the form of monetary compensation or product compensation in exchange for my review. I take pride in reviewing only products that fit my brand and will be beneficial to my readers. And while this post is sponsored or contains affiliate links, all the opinions are my own. Why do I do this? It will help me keep this DIY’ing Mama crafting for another day! For more on my disclosure policy click here.


Party Cleaning Kit

  • Mr. Clean® Clean Freak Deep Cleaning Mist with Lemon Zest
  • Febreze® ONE Fabric & Air Mist
  • Swiffer® Duster
  • Swiffer®Wet Jet

After I have all the food prepared and in the fridge, I like to do a quick, final clean of the kitchen and living area before our guests arrive.

Mr. Clean Clean Freak with Lemon Zest is amazing. It has a wonderful slight lemon scent that gives my granite a nice clean and shine after all the food has been prepared and stored in the fridge. I get my counters all clean and right before guests arrive, I'll lay all the platters out.

You can spray it at any angle for 3x the cleaning power. The Power Nozzle is like nothing I've ever used before! You determine the spray based on the pressure of the nozzle. Just spray and wipe off with either a dry/damp paper towel or cloth. It's a great multi-surface cleaner.

Swiffer Dusters are invaluable for quick dusting. I use these several times a week in between polishing furniture. I run these quickly over pieces of furniture before guests arrive that are in traffic areas that might show dust like this sofa table by the door to the porch. Swiffer Dusters use thousands of fluffy fibers with Dust Lock Adhesive that traps and locks 2X more dust than a feather duster on virtually any surface for a great clean. I use them all the time on the porch furniture. They are great for dusting the wicker furniture.

I run the Swiffer Wet Jet around any areas in the kitchen where I prepared the food. I'm always spilling something and don't want any stickiness. It's perfect for party clean-up…..before, during and after. The cleaning cartridge is attached so no preparing a solution. It's always ready. When you are finished, you simply throw the disposable pad away. Not much simpler than that! I am all about convenience.

Whether it be neutralizing cooking odors or those from pets, you'll want to have Febreze ONE Fabric & Air Mist ready for before your guests arrive. Its uses no aerosol, dyes or heavy perfumes. I love the soft scent. It does not overpower and is long-lasting.

I hope some of these ideas and tips helped you! Do yourself a favor and head on over to check out all that your local Harris Teeter has to offer. You can pick up all of your party, cleaning and floral needs in one fabulous location!


What you will need to make mini bouquets

  • Patterned tissue paper cut into fourths – I used gold polka dot paper found here.
  • 5-7 Flowers to match your centerpiece. My mini bouquets include pink roses and pink tulips from the large arrangement.
  • Scissors – these are my favorite ones here.
  • Ribbon to tie together. I love to use this romantic seam binding as ribbon. It comes in tons of different colors.

Trim your flowers to about 6 inches in length

Gather the flowers and place them on top of a square of your tissue paper. Make such that the square is turned like a diamond with the corner at the top of your flowers


Care of Cut Flowers in an Arrangement

Here are some general rules that will help you make your cut-flower arrangements last:

  • Don't overcrowd the flowers in the container.
  • Check the water level in the vase and replenish it frequently.
  • Flowers that go limp are not drinking well and need to be recut.
  • Always discard wilted blooms.
  • Keep flowers away from drafts, direct sunlight, and ripening fruits, which emit ethylene gas—a substance that causes buds to remain closed, petals to have poor color, and flowers to have a shortened vase life.

Rose Edinger is an award-winning floral designer with over 20 years’ experience. She specializes in thematic design work and has decorated events in the New York region and beyond.

Related Articles

Making a Midcentury Wedding Bouquet: A Cut-Flower Quest ›

Sustainable Cut Flowers: A Buyer’s Guide ›


30 Flowering Container Garden Ideas

Containers of flowers and other plants can add color and beauty to the landscape. And there are many container garden ideas to suit any property, from tiny balconies to expansive lawns. In fact, container gardening is perfect for those who don’t have much garden space but still want to flex their green thumb. You can use as many or as few containers as you wish and size them accordingly to your space. Plus, you can plant in hanging containers or groups of coordinating containers to create a custom look for your garden.

Here are 30 container garden ideas to add some color to your landscape.


Flowers for drying: which ones, and how-to, with jenny elliott

A READER EMAILED me not long ago, asking if I’d ever written a story or done a podcast about dried flowers—which ones to grow and how to dry them and so on. And no, I hadn’t, I had to admit, so I called Jenny Elliot of Tiny Hearts Farm, a farmer-florist friend. And that’s what our topic is today: what you can dry that you’re growing now—yes, even your marigolds and things to forage for and more.

Farmer-florist Jenny Elliott with partner, Luke Franco, owns Tiny Hearts Farm in the Hudson Valley of New York (follow them on Instagram, too), where they grow flowers organically, both for the wholesale market, for subscribers to their weekly flower CSA, and also for events in a normal year, including weddings that she designs and more.

Read along as you listen to the August 31, 2020 edition of my public-radio show and podcast using the player below. (Apologies for occasional hissing that I am blaming on the challenge of remote recording connections in the age of coronavirus!) You can subscribe to all future editions on Apple Podcasts (iTunes) or Spotify or Stitcher (and browse my archive of podcasts here).

Flowers for drying: which ones, and how, with jenny elliott

Margaret: Hi, Jenny. Down on the farm are you?

Jenny: Yeah, here I am. Yeah. It’s at least cool today, so I’m happy about that.

Margaret: Well, what a year this has been for gardeners and farmers. No crew, no rain, no weddings for flower farmers, oh my.

Jenny: All kinds of weird bugs that I have to ask you about all the time. [Laughter.]

Margaret: Right. Text me those insects to ID, my last name is Roach.

So honestly, after the very dry year you’ve had, maybe it’s a good thing we’re talking about dried flowers. And my only background with dried flowers really is being the granddaughter of a sort of Victorian-era lady—and I mean lady as she was very proper, my grandmother, who gardened and had a wooden flower press and made pressed-flower pictures of them. But we didn’t have arrangements. And today, we’re going to talk about kind of growing and drying and arranging things. So can I just dry anything, or where does it all begin?

Jenny: Yeah. Well, I mean, yes, you can dry anything, basically, but it’s not all going to look good, right? There’s specific things that really lend themselves to drying, that either keep their color or have fun textures, or that are otherwise useful for whatever you want to use them for, because there’s all kinds of things you can use them for, too.

Margaret: O.K. So they’re sort of … in the seed catalogs, which before long, the way this year has been going—it seems like it’s just whooshing by in a weird dystopian way—but before we know it, we’re going to see a seed catalogs. And if I’m looking, there are some that are everlastings, right? And those are sort of the dried flowers. Those are the ones that that’s what they’re supposed to be for, is that the idea? But you dry other things.

Jenny: Yeah. Right. So there’s all the ones that you think of when you think of dried flowers, right? Strawflower comes to mind, statice is one, Gomphrena maybe, the globe amaranths, which are practically dry when they’re fresh, right? You can tell that they’re going to be a good dried flower because you touch them when they’re fresh, and they’re all crinkly and they make that kind of rattling sound. Yeah. So those we always do. I grow lots and lots of that stuff because that stuff, they’re good, dry flowers because they keep their color so well. So they’re bright, vibrant colors, and then you dry them and they stay bright and vibrant, which is really nice.

But then there’s also a whole bunch of other things that you would look at out in the garden and wonder if maybe it would make a nice dried flower. And a lot of the times, they do. A lot of the times, it takes some experimentation. And sometimes there’s things that look like they wouldn’t dry at all, but, surprise, if you try it out, they do quite nicely. I tried Ranunculus this spring, and they dried beautifully, and I was very pleased.

Margaret: I’m imagining, or do you, in fact, grow either is it larkspur, delphinium for drying, do you … is that-

Jenny: Yeah, I grow extra, extra, extra larkspur for drying because it dries so beautifully. It holds its color. You have a lot of choices of colors. So that’s one that I used to just grow as a fresh flower and always regretted every winter not having more of it dried. So now I think I’ve doubled production. We grow 800 feet of Larkspur now, and probably, at least half of that goes up into the drying loft.

Margaret: And we’ll talk about the drying loft and all that good stuff, the how in a minute, but we’ll get a little more info on the what first.

Jenny: Yeah–the what. Yeah. So I’ve been walking around the fields the last few days thinking about what’s going to go up into the drying loft, and actually, I start putting things in the drying loft as early as, well, with the ranunculus, April, about April, May, June.

I used to really wait and those couple of days before the first frost came, I would run around like an insane person trying to cut all the flowers and hang them in the loft. [Laughter.] But turns out it all works out better if you just pick the nice stuff out of the garden when it’s ready in a timely manner, go figure. So right now, when I’m walking around, there’s the strawflower and the statice. And I have a new row of hydrangeas, which are really nice, that will dry beautifully, and then gomphrena, and so many kinds of celosias are beautiful for drying.

And then the marigolds that you mentioned, that’s something that people are always surprised about. I do the tall cutting marigolds, and they keep their color really, really well. They dry really nicely.

And then some other things I have hanging up already from the perennials that have come and gone already, I dry a lot of Echinops, and that gold yarrow, ‘Cloth of Gold’ or the Parker’s Variety.’ That keeps its color really nicely.

I didn’t do it this year, but back to annuals, I guess, Bells of Ireland dries beautifully. Ammobium, you know, is one of my favorites. Actually, what’s the common name? Winged everlasting, right? It tells you right in the name and that stays pure, pure white when you dry it, which is really unusual for something to actually stay white and not get muddy when you dry it. So those are some favorites.

So then there’s all the pods and the herbs and all of the unusual types things also.

Margaret: Northern sea oats [Chasmanthium latifolium, above] is a … I have just one clump of it in the garden because I love passing by it when it’s in its moment. And it kind of looks like flattened pine cones, the seed heads as they form right?

Jenny: So, so good. It’s so good. [Laughter.]

Margaret: Yeah. So that’s one that I think of that would be beautiful. And you said poppy pods. Did you try any of the other perennials, like peonies? Have you tried those? Do they work?

Jenny: Yes. Peonies, that’s one of the ones that is always a surprise to me, is how well peonies dry. And maybe I shouldn’t be because we all know that roses dry well, right? So peonies, roses, and then with the dahlia season soon upon us, dahlias actually dry fairly well, too, especially the ball-shaped ones, the tighter type dahlias, not the big blowsy dinner plates so much, but the ball shapes, and the pompoms dry really nicely and keep their color fairly well. They darken up a bit, but those are nice.

Margaret: So generally, and I don’t know if there’s an across-the-board thing here, when you’re a florist and you’re going to be selling over time, all the peonies of a particular variety might be coming in all together, but you might cut some things much earlier than their peak moment and cold -store them—and not to get into that, but florists have tricks so that they can have a crop to sell over a longer period of time. They know how to store things.

But with these, if I’m going to do it to dry it, what stage generally of the … is it at the when it looks its best, or is it a little earlier, or a little later? What’s the timing, do you think?

Jenny: So I would say just slightly before peak perfection. And I say just slightly before, because I would say right at peak is perfect, but if you wait a little too long, they’ll shatter when they dry.

Margaret: Oops, oops.

Jenny: They’ll just fall apart, and you’ll end up with a big bunch of petals on the floor. [Laughter.] And I think an important thing to remember, too, when you’re thinking about this stage is, you’re right, for fresh flowers, you’re going to cut kind of closed and let them open in the vase. And you can do that and let your flowers sit in the vase for like a week until they open to perfection, and then hang them to dry.

I tell people that all the time. It doesn’t have to be an either/or situation with your flowers. But one thing to remember is that if your flower is slightly past or slightly damaged or slightly anything, it is not going to improve by drying, you know what I mean? I don’t know how many times I’ve hung things that I thought, “Eh, it’s still looks O.K, I’ll just dry it,” and then, of course, it only gets more brown, more wilty-looking while it’s drying. So those beautiful peak flowers are what you want to be hanging up.

Margaret: O.K. And so you’ve mentioned a couple of times hanging up, and you have the loft and so forth. What are the ways that we can … maybe we don’t have a loft and maybe we’re only going to do a few things, home gardeners, but what’s the general practice? And again, not the put it in glycerin or whatever, whatever, not the fancier processing, but air-drying, I guess we’re talking about, right?

Jenny: Right, right. Right. To me, all those other forms of drying, that gets into crafty-land, which, right, we’re gardeners, I don’t go there so far. [Laughter.]

Margaret: You’re not as crafty.

Jenny: Right. So I air-dry everything. And yeah, I have a drying loft, and I hang things from strings. I just have these vertically hanging strings. I clip things up with clothes pins. But any spot that you have that’s warm, dark, dry is a nice spot for drying flowers. And a lot of people, because they look pretty while they’re drying, will hang them in their kitchens or from a beam in the living room or anything, and any spot like that is fine.

And the one thing you want to be careful with is that when you’re bundling flowers for drying is that you don’t want to pack too many into a bunch, and you want to have the flowerheads kind of separated from each other because you want maximum air flow around those. If they’re all clumped tight together, they’re likely to mold, instead of dry. They don’t get the right airflow. And even if you don’t have a dark spot, if you don’t mind that the flowers are going to be a little more faded than they might be otherwise, that’s O.K., too.

Margaret: But if your intention is to retain maximum color, out of the sunlight is probably your best bet?

Jenny: Yeah, exactly.

Margaret: O.K. All right. So that makes a difference. So you also … I think when I talked about this with you recently, you said something like, “Oh yeah. And there’s all these great weeds getting ready to be harvested now, too.” And I’m like, “What? That you forage for drying?” [Laughter.] So are you out there foraging weeds?

Jenny: [Laughter.] Yeah. I pay people to go out and forage weeds.

Margaret: O.K. O.K. Tell us.

Jenny: Well, coming up, not quite yet, but getting there around September, late September, there’s all kinds of cool seedheads and pods out there. So we unfortunately have a ton of foxtail grass in our fields. It’s one of our epic weeds. So I take advantage of that and cut a lot of foxtail grass. It dries beautifully. It makes an arrangement look really nice.

Velvet leaf is one of my favorite weeds for dried flowers. It makes those nice little pods. It’s related to okra. And I just strip off all the big leaves and have these nice long stems loaded up with pods. So that’s really nice.

And then I call it penny-cress or pepper-cress maybe. I’ve heard it called different things. It’s just a little fluffy weed that we have that sometimes gets about 2 feet tall or so max, and that’s when I collect tons of that. Anything interesting, textural, pods.

Around that time of year, stuff is kind of drying out in the field naturally. And so you don’t even have to hang that kind of stuff. You can just … I use my old leaky buckets, and I use them for gathering weeds in. And I just stand them upright in the drying loft and let them dry that way. It’s great stuff.

Margaret: Right. O.K. So we can do a little foraging and so forth. O.K. So we dry it, and you know it’s dry when it’s … I don’t know. It just looks dry? Brittle? Is there a timeline? I mean, you said you already have stuff up there, which I assume is dry—some of the spring stuff like those ranunculus probably were dry, what, in a couple of weeks or a week, or?

Jenny: Yeah, it depends totally on the weather, right? So this summer, stuff has been drying really quickly. It’s been drying in about two weeks. And yeah, I just go and I feel it, and if it feels dry, it’s pretty dry. I feel the thickest part of the stem and give it a squeeze, and if it has any give to it, I let it keep hanging. But if it feels pretty brittle, I know that it’s finished. But then later in the fall, we’ve had these humid Octobers the last few years, and it can take things six weeks, eight weeks, 10 weeks, even, to dry when it’s humid like that. And that’s when you have to be especially careful about the mold and making sure you have good air flow in your bunches.

And then once they’re dry, I mean, you can certainly keep them hanging, but if you are drying in a spot, and you need more space … I take them down once they’re dry, I put them in a box with newspaper, and I throw a few of those little packets of silica that come in your shoe box.

Margaret: Right. The desiccant.

Jenny: Yeah. I hoard those little packets, and you can microwave them and dry them out again. You can use them over and over and over again. And I throw a few of those packets in a box of dried flowers. And that way, if you get a humid week in October or something like that, your flowers don’t rehydrate, which they can tend to do sometimes. So just a little extra desiccant before, while they’re in storage, helps.

Margaret: And so, I mean, if I’m going to use these, as I said, my only real experience with them is growing up with someone who pressed them—it was more almost like making scientific herbarium slides except she was doing it strictly decoratively. So they were flattened. They weren’t dried in 3-D.

And you do this … I assume, you sell these, you sell bunches or arrangements and so forth at your shop in Hillsdale, New York, or are you going to do it mail-order as well? Is that another thing this year that you’re doing? Going to have them-

Jenny: Yeah. We’re going to get them up on the website and do mail-order this year [starting about Labor Day check their website, or Instagram].

Margaret: O.K. And I have to say to people that I really admire—and we talked about this, we did an article in “The New York Times” together early in the season—and I really admired that you guys, as flower farmers, knowing that there wouldn’t be a lot of big events to utilize all your crops with, you pivoted smartly as did many other nimble, smart farmers and said, “Hey, we’re going to sell some of our dahlia tubers instead of planting them. And we’re going to sell them mail order to gardeners.” And you’re recognizing that things are different this year. And so good for you for doing that ,and good for us, too, if we want to order. [Laughter.]

But when you think about making an arrangement with dried material, are you approaching it the same way design-wise and structurally? What are you using as a base? How is it different from … I mean, it’s not a vase of water. Is it still a vase? I mean, what are you doing?

Jenny: It can be. It often is. Yeah. Yeah. That’s a good … well, let’s see. So the first thing I think about is that I still … I do not want a stuffy, 1980s-style dried arrangement, right? I want a dried arrangement to look very much like my fresh arrangements do, which is wild and like they just came out of the garden. And one of the things I think about is when you’re driving down the road in the winter, and you see those beautiful stands of dried grasses and dried weeds and bare, twiggy trees, that’s a really beautiful scene, and how can we recreate that with dried flowers instead of having these very formal, stylized arrangements, right?

Margaret: O.K.

Jenny: So in that sense, I do use a high amount of natural colors and textures to the bright-colored, purposely dried flowers. I like that look a lot. So I also don’t … we don’t use any floral foam or anything like that. It’s toxic, and it never biodegrades, so we avoid that like crazy. And it took me a long time to figure out how to do a dried arrangement without that. So now for the most part, I use a vase or a flower frog. And if I don’t have a frog, I cram balled chicken wire into a vase, just like I do for a fresh arrangement often. And I just start filling it in, and it works nicely. And then there’s the whole realm of wreaths, wall hangings, and things like that, too. There’s a lot you can do with dried flowers.

Margaret: With the wreaths, do you use some kind of particular wreath base, or is that a foraged thing, like grapevine. What’s the wreath base because, again, you’re not using the foam kind of thing?

Jenny: Right. I mostly go around sometime in September and yank all the grapevine out of the trees and use that. We have so much of it. It’s choking out the trees. I feel like it’s my good deed for the year to go and yank it out of the trees. And then I just can wind it up really easily and make a nice wreath frame. If I’m doing a fussy little formal wreath, like that’s kind of small and circular, maybe all, I don’t know, all statice in a perfect circle or something like that, I’ll use a metal wreath frame you can buy at the floral supply, but mostly I do grapevine. Wisteria works well.

Margaret: And do you just kind of work them in, the stems in, or do you glue gun or any other things that you do to adhere the things to the structure?

Jenny: I use wire on the wreaths. I just keep wrapping wire around the flowers, and then occasionally I will … I think of it is cheating, I shouldn’t, but occasionally a dab of glue to get that last piece in there that’s always hard to get in, it can use a little glue. But for the arrangements that would be in a vase or something, I don’t use anything. I’m trying to keep those as natural and free from any kind of mechanics as possible, so that they don’t look so stiff.

Margaret: Right, right. Hydrangeas, you mentioned, which kind do you think you have that you’re growing? Are they the big mop-toppy kind of blue things, or are they the panicle types or what that you’re growing, you mentioned earlier?

Jenny: Well, you tell me. You helped me pick them out.

Margaret: Oh, it’s my fault, is it? O.K.

Jenny: It’s your fault. They’re mostly the panicle types. I know I did ‘Limelight.’ And then I have a panicle type that’s really surprising, dark pink. It’s beautiful. I don’t have any mopheads, although I have seen those dried very nicely. But the panicles already are almost … some of them are almost already dry on the plants, and they’re very pretty.

Margaret: So those you’re going to cut and add to some of these arrangements, stem and all?

Jenny: Yeah. Yeah. And I’ll probably cut some in peak and dry them, and I’ll probably let some just dry on the plants. And they’ll turn brown if they dry on the plants, and that’s O.K. I want some of that also. If I cut them in color and dry them, they’ll be a flower in one of my arrangements. If I let them dry on the plant and they turn brown, I’ll cut them and use them, and then they’re a texture in my arrangements. So they have different uses.

Margaret: O.K. And what the heck do you do with like … if you have … I mean, I know what I would do. I’d probably compost it, but a dried arrangement that’s a little dusty? [Laughter.]

Jenny: Yes. Well, you can actually blow it off with a hairdryer.

Margaret: Oh, you’re kidding.

Jenny: Yeah. Most of it just blows right off. And you can keep a dried arrangement around for many years, if you want to, and they will get dusty, and the hairdryer trick, it works. It won’t keep all the dust off eventually, but… Yeah, I’m with you. I usually get tired of them by the end of the winter and want to see something new. And that’s part of why I try to keep arrangements so mechanics-free so that I can just throw it in the compost heap at the end of the season when the fresh flowers are coming in.

Margaret: Yeah. Good point. Good point. Well, Jenny, we’re basically out of time, but just super quick, catalogs that once they start coming in November, December that might have good everlastings and other things that could be dried. I mean, I know Select Seeds is one that you and I both use. Any other places you look for great things?

Jenny: Yeah. Select Seeds is where I go for something unusual, or different colors even. And then Johnny’s has a great selection of cut flowers. They’ve done really good job, and they have a lot of those everlastings also. And then I’d say when you’re looking at seeds, try some things just to experiment with, because you never know. Some things dry beautifully, and you’re surprised.

Margaret: O.K. All right. I’ll talk to you soon again and thank you for the first time ever my talking on the show or on the blog about dried flowers. Thanks, Jenny from Tiny Hearts Farm.

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M Y WEEKLY public-radio show, rated a “top-5 garden podcast” by “The Guardian” newspaper in the UK, began its 11th year in March 2020. In 2016, the show won three silver medals for excellence from the Garden Writers Association. It’s produced at Robin Hood Radio, the smallest NPR station in the nation. Listen locally in the Hudson Valley (NY)-Berkshires (MA)-Litchfield Hills (CT) Mondays at 8:30 AM Eastern, rerun at 8:30 Saturdays. Or play the August 31, 2020 show using the player near the top of this transcript. You can subscribe to all future editions on iTunes/Apple Podcasts or Spotify
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