Flower Arranging with Dried and Preserved Material

My first design uses a container as an accessory so instead of filling this tall pot with plant material I arranged the late Summer materials to compliment it.

Small plastic dishes were filled with wet foam and were eventually hidden by the arrangement of Sunflowers, Buddliea Globosa, Ivy (this is a variegated variety that has turned completely cream through lack of sunlight) and some dried seed heads of the Crocosmia Lucifer. As well as the fresh Sunflowers I have also used their centres with the yellow petals taken off. The Crocosmia seed heads had begun to dry naturally on the plant and they have been picked and brought indoors to dry off and protect them from the elements. Picking them when they are in good condition will ensure that they are useful for designs throughout the coming months. The centres of the Sunflowers will also dry and can be used over and over again in arrangements.

Putting together a collection of dried and preserve material gives the flower arranger additional resources during the winter months. Some preserved materials can last for years. Glycerined Aspidistra for example of Fatsia leaves which are almost like leather when preserved with glycerine. I have been drying and glycerining material for the last three months and have put the results together in the second design.

The container used here was from my local Oxfam shop. Though I have lots of pots and containers I am always looking for unusual or vintage ones. A friend, who was in the shop commented how much she enjoys these articles and the assistant suggested I take this pot to feature. So here it is, my 99p pot. It is not waterproof so ideal for the arrangement of all dried and preserved material.

I have used Dri-foam for this design. I could have used a mixture of dried and fresh material and then I would have for wet foam to supply water to the fresh flowers. A small amount of foam was pushed into the container leaving about 4cms above to allow for the flow of the material. I have tried to follow the lines of the pot which is round and shallow from front to back/ the downward curves were achieved by using glycerined stems of Jasmine and filled in with dried Buddliea and glycerined seed heads from Japanese Anemone. The centre was filled with round flower heads. Sunflower, Echinops and the fluffy seeds of the wild Clematis (Oldmans Beard) which I have glycerined. This design will keep for months but not forever. Dusty dried arrangements left in the corner for years have given them a bad press but you can add few artificial flowers and to give them a Christmas theme spray some material gold, silver or copper.

Most seed heads dry quite naturally if brought indoors, stripped of leaves and hung in a dry, airy place. Hang them upside down in small bunches until crisp to the touch.

Glyceringing takes a little more effort. Small bottles of Glycerine can be obtained from the Chemist. Mix one part Glycerine to two parts hot water and stand the stems of the material in the mixture until it changes colour and feels silky but not sticky. If it is sticky it has been in the solution too long. Times for the change to take place vary. The Jasmine took one week. Aspidistra can take two months. The list of material that you can preserve is endless. Beech leaves are easy and are a good standby, these should be done between June and September. Evergreens can be done almost anytime. There are lots of good books about preserving plant material and NAFAS publish an excellent leaflet. Join a Flower Club as they usually have them for sale at meetings.

As the days turn cold and the nights lengthen there will be less from the garden to arrange but the shops are full of super flowers to inspire us and look, here comes Christmas! More about that next month.
Gayle Shell