Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
Good things can’t last forever, but one way you can enjoy those flowers and herbs from the garden is to dry them for use as everlastings.
The Silver King Artemisia makes a great dried flower. As an everlasting, artemisia is used as a filler flower because of its very deep silver foliage. In addition, the pungent fragrance of the leaves is very welcome. Silver King grows to about three feet in height with an equal spread. Harvest the stems after the flowers have just begun to open.
Once dried, the plants are suitable for many uses throughout the home. One particularly popular use for pressed flowers is as ornaments for picture frames.
Speaking of gifts, dried plants are very lovely when used as decorations for gift boxes. Because the flowers are fragile, I wouldn’t ship such packages by mail.
Pressed flowers are also great for making handmade greeting cards. For this, pansies are one of the easiest blossoms to work with, as they tend to be rather flat. Thicker blooms can be harder to press.
Bernice Peitzer, an award winning designer with over 35 years experience, takes the guesswork out of pressing flowers in “Forever Flowers-A Flower Lover’s Guide to Selecting, Pressing, and Designing”, available from Krause Publications (www.krause.com, 800 258-0929) as a softcover for $21.95. Bookmarks, jewelry, gorgeous serving dishes, pictures, they are all here in this ultimate guide to flower use. The color illustrated, step-by-step instructions will ensure your efforts are successful for every sort of project you can imagine. You’ll even find instructions on growing and selecting the best flower varieties, from seed packet to the flower press.
One of the loveliest everlasting arrangements to make is topiary. Various forms of topiary are possible, and the easiest is to take six or eight stems of the same type, such as roses or sunflowers. Tie them together with a ribbon to form a bundle. Insert in a vase or other suitable container. Flower pots can also be used, but you would need to first put a piece of Oasis foam into the pot to help support the weight of the stems. I also love the cone topiaries. This slender elegant style is a winter favorite. Reminiscent of decorating styles of the 18th century, the cone shaped topiary is still in vogue. For winter topiaries, nuts, acorns, cones, and pods are lovely. Add colorful fruits to highlight the other botanicals.
Topiaries and every other type of dried flower arrangement you can ever want to make is included in “Dried Flower Gifts-Creating Decorative Arrangements”, by Stephanie Donaldson, available from Abbeville Press (www.abbevillepress.com) as a clothbound book for $24.95. Donaldson, a renowned designer, has taught classes at the famous Chelsea Physic Garden and other locations. She has written the ultimate sourcebook for everlastings, from harvesting and drying in the microwave to design of glorious dried arrangements. Over 20 exquisite projects are included. What I found especially helpful was a chart that tells you a glance which everlastings you should mix and match for the best designs.
Gourds are one of the most wonderful garden items for everlastings. At one time, gourds would have been considered old fashioned, but they have recently enjoyed a renaissance of interest. Gourds make very beautiful Christmas ornaments. The New World gourds are less durable, while the Old World ones will last for several years
Due to popular demand, there is now even an entire book devoted to gourd crafts, “Gourd Fun For Everyone” by Sammie Crawford, the Fairy Gourdmother, available from North Light Books (www.nlbooks.com, 800 289-0963) as a softcover for $22.95. You’ll find 19 delightful projects of all sorts. Some are of seasonal interest, while others are well suited to year-round use. With color illustrated, step by step instructions for each delightful project, you’ll find everything you need to know about dealing with gourds. From hamburgers and stone-decorated cottages, it’s all in this delightful volume.
Whether you grow the traditional birdhouse gourd, the exotic snake gourd, or traditional everlastings, you’ll enjoy year-round beauty with these lasting decorations.