I hate silk flowers. Or polyester. Or plastic. Or any kind of flower that didn’t once have chlorophyll coursing through its leaves.
But I like dried flowers – especially the blossoms that were once part of fresh arrangements on my table, and then settled in for a long period of mummification, kind of like the pharaohs. Yet they still look handsome in their own romantic way and, unlike artificial flowers, I’m very happy to have them on the dining room buffet.
Take this arrangement I put together for a dinner party on October 6th of last year. Before it had withered too much, I took the entire thing, tied a string around it and hung it upside down in the dark furnace room.
Checking on it a few weeks later, the celosia was well-dried but fragile and easily shattered; the hypericum berries had turned black; and the blue sea holly (Eryngium) was dry but looked very much as it had when fresh. I carefully added some roses I’d dried the same way and popped the whole thing into a different vase.
The dried flowers gave me joy over the long winter months and still look beautiful, in their own way, today. And best of all, they weren’t polyester.
I love egg cups, but not for serving eggs. They make the prettiest little vases for spring bulb flowers. Here are some of my Easter favourites over the years.
Iris reticulata under a miniature pussy-willow arbour.
Ranunculus and grape hyacinths
Crocuses and ‘February Gold’ daffodils.
My favourites – windflowers or Greek anemones.
I ran out the door, glancing briefly at the little crocuses peeking out from under the mess of stems left over from last summer’s garden. Their silken purple tepals were open to the April sun like tiny fairy chalices, the miracle of spring spangled across the wet, brown leaf litter. “Pick a few,” I said to myself, but I was late for an appointment.
Why does the warm weather always arrive before I’ve raked? Why don’t I cut the garden down in autumn? Why bother asking those questions when it’s the same old thing, year after year. When I returned home, the clouds had emerged and the crocuses had closed against the dropping temperature and impending rain. But shy crocuses in little vases today are better than mud-splattered crocuses in the garden tomorrow. So spring came indoors for the night.
‘Purple Remembrance’ and ‘Pickwick’ Dutch crocuses in bud vases.
There’s an exponential relationship – I know this to be true
Between the length of winter and the desperate way I view
Those first emerging nodding bells of shimmering, pure white
Oh, common little snowdrop, you are such a welcome sight
A nosegay of snowdrops in an antique shot glass. Placed in a little vase like this, you can sniff their sweet perfume.
Some of you might remember this. A lovely early December dinner party with close friends. The sweetheart roses weren’t expensive: $9 a bunch, but worth millions in early winter cheer. And those silly cordial glasses we never use made great vases for them.
Orange sweetheart roses lined up with candles on my December table.
The next day, I cut the stems (remember, with roses you need to cut the stems under water, to keep air bubbles from forming), refreshed the water and placed all the little vases along my kitchen window sill. They warded off early winter chill.
A window-sill of orange cheer.
And now it’s March and the dried roses (I hung them upside down from the basement clothesline for a few weeks in little bunches fastened with elastics) are still adding beauty – a great return on investment! Check out the orange hypericum berries — now a dramatic black. And look what happened when the roses died: the orange died with them. That would be all those flavonoids giving up the ghost. But I do like crimson-pink. Especially in March when the first snowdrops are still weeks away.
The sweetheart roses in March.