My "No Cost" Dried Flower Arrangements Pay!

Here are a few tips from a self-taught expert on the craft of making dried flower arrangements and winter bouquets.

| November/December 1978

Winter bouquets are a delight to make, can brighten any room, and I've found can enrich your bank account too! Furthermore, such dried flower arrangements (at least the way I put them together) need cost you nothing but a little time and effort, yet if assembled with taste and care can sell for anywhere from $1.25 to $50.00 each!

Materials Are Everywhere

If you can see beauty in the natural things that are freely available to all, you'll soon discover that the raw materials for your winter bouquets are everywhere: along roadsides, in fields, down country lanes, and in fence rows. (Carry clippers, scissors, gloves, and a basket in your car at all times. Who knows when you'll sight something special?)

Gather Those Plants!

Always get permission, of course, before clipping anything — even "weeds" — from private property (I haven't been turned down yet, but I always make it a point to ask). And then, when you have a "go ahead," bear in mind that the prime time for foraging your floral bouquets' ingredients is during the late morning (after the sun has dried away the dew). Yes, I know: It's difficult to resist picking and cutting during other parts of the day when you "just happen" to run across a colorful bunch of these or those that you hadn't expected to find. But control yourself: Your finished work will be the better for it.

And experiment! Almost any nonpoisonous flower, plant, or weed is worth a try. I've successfully dried and made arrangements with roses, tulips, buttercups, daisies, lilies, dogwood, delphiniums, zinnias, marigolds, cosmos, sunflowers, corn shucks, cattails, sea oats, lotus pods, birch leaves, grasses, yarrow, baby's breath, goldenrod, and — it seems — hundreds of other growing things.

Flowers, as might be expected, need somewhat more careful handling when they're being harvested than, say, corn shucks, cattails, or dried grasses. Pick the blossoms just before they reach full bloom and strip all foliage from their stems. (If they're wilted, the flowers should be revived in water before the leaves are removed. You should never attempt to dry a moist bloom.)

Straw flowers, daisies, and other blossoms with heavy heads and frail stems may need a little "special" support before they're dried. But that's easy: Just cut their stems off about one inch from the blooms, wrap wire around the stubs, snip the lengths of wire off as long as you want them, and then wrap the wires with florist's tape.

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