Forget the dated dusty relics in your granny’s front room, dried flowers are turning into one of the hottest interior décor trends of the year.
Adored by fashion and interiors influencers and championed as the sustainable home-grown alternative to exotic blooms flown in from overseas, dried flowers tap into our interest in all things eco-friendly and perfectly reflect the romantic appeal of the cottagecore vibe.
‘In the 70s and 80s we – or our parents and grandparents – all had that dried-out country-style faded bunch of dried wheats and flowers in the bathroom or hall covered in dust,’ says Heather Gorringe, managing director of flower company The Great British Florist. ‘We just kept them too long and they all looked pretty much the same. They simply went out of fashion.’
Now however, dried flowers suit so many looks. From funky technicolour brights to rustic posies, there’s a bloom for everyone.
‘Throughout 2020 a lot of the popular design trends have involved natural materials, added greenery and bringing the outside in. And, the star of that show has certainly been dried flowers,’ says Scarlett Blakey, founder of Ophelia Blake Interior Design. ‘Flowers have always and will always be a beautiful design detail but dried flowers bring a perfect, subtle elegance of natural textures into your home.
‘Paired with a statement vase, they make a memorable central dining table piece and are incredibly easy to switch out with the seasons. We love dried flowers in a variety of punchy colours as well as natural tones such as pampas grass, pussy willow and palm cups.’
As well as the obvious visual appeal, there are several logical reasons for this. Growing awareness of throw-away culture and the need to reduce our carbon footprint is encouraging us to think twice about lavish fresh flowers which must be disposed of after a week or so. As we’ve all spent so much time outdoors, we’re becoming more in tune with nature and the seasons.
And with so much choice, dried flowers enhance any living space; from playful bunny tail grasses to elegant echinacea (coneflower), they are adaptable and require minimal maintenance.
Heather says that another plus is that they’re a quick inexpensive fix: ‘You can buy a bunch of dried flowers for £12 or so and a door wreath for less than £50 which will last four to six months.’
Dried flowers have had their moisture removed but preserved flowers have had their sap extracted and replaced with an alternative, such as glycerine or an organic gel to give a very natural appearance. ‘As a result, stems are easier to handle,’ says Rosebie Morton, flower farmer and founder of The Real Flower Company. ‘The process of preserving is considerably more challenging than drying but does produce a fresh-looking product.’
Sadly, dried flowers don’t last forever, says Rosebie. The process of drying a flower means that it becomes very susceptible to dropping its petals or seed heads or its brittle stem snapping. However, with care and attention, you can expect them to last between one and three years, depending on the type of flower, attention to maintenance and where it is placed in the home.
Avoid rooms which become very humid or over-heated; don’t put dried flowers in a kitchen or bathroom. Humidity can also make flower-heads mouldy. Place away from direct sunlight as this will encourage flowers to fade and become brittle. Dust is still an issue. Rosebie recommends a gentle blow with a hairdryer at a distance to remove fine dust particles, or carefully graze from time to time with a clean, soft paintbrush.
Beginners might start by buying several bunches of the same flower and arranging them in vintage vases, advises Heather: ‘Then, as you gain confidence, choose your next effort based on the colour palette you like and the kind of textures you prefer.’
Helena Willcocks, owner of The Allotment Florist, says she would stay away from symmetry or attempting to place all the stems at a similar height: ‘Instead, stagger them with different heights and make sure whatever you’re making is nice and loose – this will create a much more natural-looking arrangement.’
Because you don’t need water there are no constraints on the containers you can use so let your imagination run riot, says Rosebie: hunt out interesting tins, heirloom glassware and wicker baskets.
She’s also a great fan of wreaths with a hazel or willow base, which can be enjoyed on a door year-round or used as a table centrepiece, perhaps with the addition of a chunky candle in the middle.
If styled well, dried flowers make a striking addition to any room, believes Larry Walshe, celebrity florist and founder of sustainable online flower delivery service, Bloom. He likes dried lavender flowers – which also have a lovely subtle scent – as well as blue delphiniums, green eucalyptus and bleached grasses arranged in a coloured glass pot or adorning a mantelpiece.
‘Alternatively, branches – especially willow and ideally paired with berries – provide a more minimalist, Scandi-chic look and work well arranged in tall pots or vases,’ he adds.