It was a beautiful, crisp Cornish morning in Autumn. We arrived at stunning Polpier house ready to harvest some of their wonderful hydrangeas from the garden for drying to create an arrangement for the chiffonier top in the drawing room. If you would like to do the same with your own hydrangeas for your own home, just follow our steps.
You will want a lovely, dry day for searching for the best blooms. When the petals are not covered with rain, you will have a head start on the drying process. It is also a more enjoyable experience for you and means you do not hurry when looking for the perfect specimens. Take the time to think about how your selection will affect the overall plant – you will want to leave it with a good shape so you can continue enjoying it in the garden.
Using sharp secateurs to cut the woody stems, preferably on the slant so they absorb water more quickly. The blooms should have nice long stems so you are keeping your options open on how you use them for arrangements or decorations. You can put them immediately in a pail with water, but, because they are robust, just laying them flat and carrying as bunches is also fine.
Once you get them home, strip all the leaves from the stems because the leaves dry to an unattractive brown and it will make it easier when you use in arrangements. That is why professional florists strip leaves from flower stems and add foliage separately to make a hand tied bouquet.
Then place the blooms, not too crowded to allow air circulation, in containers with a few inches of water. The water will give them a drink to get them in peak condition before they start to dry. The hydrangeas can then be left in a warm room (or warm dark room if you have it) to dry naturally over a few days. When the water has evaporated, the drying process is completed. Your dried hydrangeas will last for years in a normal, damp free, household environment although the colour will fade if they are placed in a sunny spot.
Now the fun begins. Experiment with different varieties and colours to suit your interior design. There are endless possibilities from simply arranging a few dried hydrangeas in a vase or jam jar, to creating wreaths or table centre pieces as more elaborate seasonal decorations with dried pine cones, seed and poppy heads, and grasses. As the seasons change and your garden comes back to life, you can also combine them with fresh flowers and greenery, for example dried hydrangeas look stunning with roses and eucalyptus. It is best practice to put enough water in the vase to look after the fresh stems but keep the dried stems shy of the water. The use of plenty of foliage will disguise this.