New for Bressingham this year has been the harvesting and drying of flowers from the nursery stock plants.
Back in July we started clearing some disused polytunnels to make room for these beauties to be dried naturally, before being stored in a dark and cool place to preserve texture and colour.
Being this new to us, it is proving to be a wonderful learning experience but also a race against time. The Summer is indeed the busiest of times, – especially in Covid years when everything seems to have to be done in those 3 months of freedom that the Summer grants – and flowers do not wait for you to have time to deal with them. If they are not picked at the right time, they are spoiled and you have to wait for the following year to try again.
We waited too long for Achilleas, we picked them too late and the beautiful creamy pink has turned grey.
We learnt that most flowers dry best simply left in a vase with some water, whilst others can be hung upside down in bunches.
We started with Persicaria bistorta, affinis and amplexicaulis. Wonderful, versatile both as fresh cut flowers and as dry flowers as they keep their shape and true colour even after drying – best dried upside down.
Echinacea proved to be an amazing cut flower, especially ‘Cheyenne Spirit’ which features 3-5 different colours and heights on the same plant. We have used it frequently for large vase arrangements in the Hall with Selinum walichianum. Echinacea needs to dry upright in water in order to maintain colour and shape.
Astilbes need to be harvested at their peak, or they all turn to grey/brown.
Sanquisorba Tanna, just like astilbe above, needs to be harvested at peak time, or it will crumble to dust as soon as it dries.
Sanguisorba menziesii and obtusa are absolute stars. They keep in vases as fresh flowers for a long time and then gracefully dry in water, and keep shape and colour perfectly. In arrangements they are very good fillers.
Monarda dries beautifully both in water and hang upside down. The pale pink varieties are pure poetry in fresh arrangements but is too delicate when dry.
Perovskias dry beautifully if picked at their peak, will lose their flowers if picked too late.
Astrantia has proven to be very reliable in keeping both colour and shape.
Heleniums have not proved to be worth drying, which is such a shame considering the amount and variety we have.
As far as grasses are concerned, Pennisetums and Panicums have been our favourites, especially Pennisetum villosum with its ethereal plumes and Panicum virgatum ‘purple Haze’ with its purple tips, which makes a wonderful filler in fresh arrangements and a great ally to give the wild look to our Winter wreaths.
It is exciting to think forward to next year, to all the different varieties we can add to our repertoire of dry flowers.
This year we look forward to having our very first Christmas Wreath Workshop at Bressingham High Barn, where our guests will be able to use these dry flowers together with seedpods, cones, grasses, berries and Adrian’s collection of fresh conifers, to make their own unique sustainable festive wreath.
More information and booking our Wreath making workshop HERE