When you think of Valentine's Day traditions, red roses are likely high on the list, along with a box of chocolates or a meal in a cozy restaurant. But nobody needs to be reminded that this year was anything but traditional. Maybe this Valentine's Day is a good excuse to lean into the untraditional and try something fresh. Um, not fresh, depending.
Dried flowers have made a comeback in recent years, thanks in part to their typically smaller carbon footprint than their fresh counterparts, which are often shipped long distances in refrigerated vehicles or airplanes.
"Many people have preconceived notions of what dried flowers are," said Rebecca O & # 39; Donnell, owner of The Quiet Botanist, a botanical pharmacist and dried flower shop in Hudson, NY. But today's dried bouquets are not the dusty, boring arrangements of the past. Instead, it's about showing off the luscious textures that result from the drying process.
If you are interested in making your own bouquet, you can buy dried flowers from many local florists, online from specialist companies, or direct from smallholders like Sarah Haven of Catkin Flowers in Brunswick, Maine. Ms. Haven's flowers go straight to a dark barn to dry after harvest, which keeps the colors as vibrant as possible without staining them. She got into the business after two friends asked her to make their wedding flowers. "They wanted something that would last longer than their wedding day," said Ms. Haven.
The romantic longevity of a dried bouquet is just a bonus. Ms. O’Donnell points out that flowers can change over time. "You can be creative and experiment," she said. “When it comes to spring, you can add fresh flowers. You can add a bit of water and then let it age a little. "And to combat the inevitable dust, she said," Just use a blow dryer on a very low speed or take it outside and give it a little shake. "
Worried it doesn't look right? No problem. "When it's a little undone and not perfect, it's more interesting," said Ms. O & # 39; Donnell.
What to buy and from where:
Your local flower shop may have dried flowers, but there are several online stores with a great variety. (If you don't feel like trying your hand at a bouquet, many local and online stores sell beautiful pre-made bouquets and can ship too.)
Start with five different elements, each with multiple stems. Aim for at least one from each of these four categories: large, full, or fluffy pieces; delicate, structured stems; a bold statement flower; and grasses or greens as fillers. Gypsophila, or Baby's Breath, is a favorite, or try Caspia for a slightly more textured look. Rabbit tail grass or globe amaranth add interesting shapes, and Protea and Banksia make nice statement options. Grocery stores often stock eucalyptus stems, which are popular in dried arrangements and smell great, or Ms. O’Donnell suggests you can even look for fillers like cattails or wild grasses that grow in your area.
As a guide, your tallest pieces should be about one to one and a half times the height of your vase.
What you need:
Your selection of dried flowers and grasses
Very sharp scissors
Erase adhesive tape
Make your own:
1. Using the tape, create a grid on top of the vase. You place the stems in the grid so your arrangement stays 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 that your stems are really brittle, Ms. Haven suggests spraying them with a spray bottle while you work to give them a little more flexibility.
3. Add some green that is similar in height or slightly shorter than your tall, full stems.
4. Place some stems of your statement flowers. Put the first one pretty deep in the vase avoiding perfect symmetry to make things look natural and modern. Play around and see what you think looks good.
5. Look for empty spots and add stems as needed.