Dried flowers: a chat with author Bex Partridge

This stunning book, Everlastings: How to grow, harvest and create with dried flowers  is a celebration of the life of flowers, showcasing the ethereal beauty of dried flowers.

Author, Bex Partridge takes you on a journey, starting with practical advice on how to pick flowers both at your home and outdoors, with in-depth descriptions of the many methods of drying blooms, seed heads and foliage, before sharing her favourite ways to style with dried flowers in the home as well as wearable items such as floral crowns and hair clips. 

She also shares her knowledge of the ecological benefits of dried flowers, as well as chapters on foraging and thoughts on the meditative benefits of working with dried flowers. Filled with stunning imagery that Bex has become known for online, Everlastings presents a modern take on an age-old craft. 

We recently had a chat with Bex about the comeback of dried flowers, her favourites to work with and the need for distinction between real dried flowers and chemically altered botanicals.

Copyright photography © Laura Edwards 2020 from Everlastings by Bex Partridge published by Hardie Grant.

Interest in dried and preserved flowers has been steadily rising over the past few years – Google trends shows that searches for ‘dried flowers’ has double over the last year. We asked Bex why does she think dried flowers have made such a comeback?

 I think there are a number of factors at play here with the resurgence in people’s interest and acceptance of dried flowers. Firstly, for the younger generations, who are acutely aware of climate change and the impact it will have on their lives, they are actively seeking a more sustainable way of flowering up weddings and other celebrations. The fact that the flowers can be taken home by guests or repurposed into another display is of real value to people. 

Copyright photography © Laura Edwards 2020 from Everlastings by Bex Partridge published by Hardie Grant.

Dried flowers are also now being considered more and more when it comes to interior design. A structural display of dried flowers can bring depth and texture to a room, whilst also allowing you to bring nature in, particularly important in the winter months.

And of course, dried flowers really are very beautiful. Admittedly not as showy as their former selves but I see that as a good trait!

What are the top 5 flowers to grow for drying?

 I’ll always have a soft spot for the well known dried flowers such as helichrysums and statice, they are so giving and super simple to grow. This year I have discovered that peonies dry perfectly and have fallen in love with xeranthemum annuum which is another type of everlastings. And to make it 5 and although its not a flower, I would say bracken, in both its green and brown state, so versatile and abundant! 

Copyright photography © Laura Edwards 2020 from Everlastings by Bex Partridge published by Hardie Grant.

What flowers aren’t suitable for drying?

All flowers will dry of course but some are more tricky than others for sure. As a guide, take a look at the stem of a flower, if the stem is fleshy like a dandelions then it will be tricky to dry the flower (although not impossible), if the stem is woody then you should have more luck. A good example of this are (certain types of) Dahlias, where despite the blooms being really fleshy, the stems themselves are relatively woody and with good drying conditions you can get long lasting results.

Copyright photography © Laura Edwards 2020 from Everlastings by Bex Partridge published by Hardie Grant.

How to prevent or deal with the dust gathering factor for dried flower arrangements?

Dust settling on dried flower arrangements is unavoidable given how long we keep them on display, so a gentle blow the hairdryer on the lowest, coolest setting should help to remove any unwanted flecks 

What is the biggest challenge when drying flowers- is it mould / moisture? Crumble factor?

Drying flowers is relatively challenge free so long as you have a cool, dry space in which to do it. Mould is indeed a problem if you have any moisture, so best to always work with a suitable space before beginning.

Copyright photography © Laura Edwards 2020 from Everlastings by Bex Partridge published by Hardie Grant.

Do you think a distinction needs to be made in the market between naturally dried and altered plant material – dyed and chemically treated?

I definitely do and its one of my biggest concerns with this trend in “everlasting” flowers. I see many florists touting their flowers as being Everlasting which indeed they are but they are in no way natural when they have been sprayed with paint and/or bleached. It’s the dark side of the dried flower industry and I see little need in it. Flowers that have been treated in this way should come with a big disclaimer that chemicals have been used to make them the way they are and then it is up to us as florists and artists to educate the folks we work with who are often completely oblivious to things we put our flowers through in the name of floristry.

More about the book

The main section of the book features over 20 projects to try at home, all accompanied with beautiful photography. Suitable for both those that have never worked with dried flowers before and the seasoned professionals, the projects span many levels of experience. Bex shares ideas on how to capture the memories and moments of special days, through the gathering and preserving of flowers, to be treasured for years to come. 

Bex Partridge is the founder of Botanical Tales, is a nature-loving creative who works with dried flowers throughout her practice. Bex has always loved the seasons and the benefits that nature has on our wellbeing, both of which are at the heart of her creations. Alongside making her own dried flower art, Bex runs creative workshops as well as sharing advice and inspiration on her blog and social media channels. She has contributed to a number of different independent magazines, with her words always accompanied by her signature photography. 

Copyright photography © Laura Edwards 2020 from Everlastings by Bex Partridge published by Hardie Grant.


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