Design Hints

Primitive Posies

Read practical advice for picking and drying wildflowers, herbs and more to make texture-rich decor.

The varied textures, colors and shapes of dried flowers perfectly complement country decor, especially in the fall and winter months when fresh blooms aren't readily available. Although dried flowers are sold at many craft and gift stores, they are often costly and the variety is limited. Carmen, whose home is featured in "Hoosier Favorite" in our January 2014 issue, prefers to dry her own. Here, she shares a few tips to get you started.

Get up and go: Of course, the flowers you grow yourself are a great place to start, but don't stop at your own backyard. Ask a friend if she minds sharing a few hydrangea blooms, or get permission from a friendly farmer to cut some wildflowers. "We have a friend who has a farm," Carmen notes, "and every fall, she just gives me free rein. My husband takes his truck, and we grab a Coke and just go clip stuff!"

A rose by any other name: Don't worry if you don't know the names of some flowers. Hydrangeas, roses, black-eyed Susans and lavender make wonderful dried flowers, but so do nameless wildflowers with interesting shapes and textures. "I don't know what some of those wildflowers are and neither does my friend," Carmen says with a laugh.

On the vine: Cut flowers look terrific in crocks, vases and jars, but vines have lots of potential, too. Dried bittersweet, wisteria, grapevines, sweet peas and more can be wound through chandeliers or tucked into baskets and other containers to adorn tabletops and shelves.

Warm and dry: It's not necessary to dry flowers in a low-temperature oven, but it is important to designate a warm, low-humidity spot because flowers don't dry well in, for example, damp basements. Carmen hangs a jute clothesline in her garage, ties and suspends bunches of flowers with a little jute, or even just attaches them with a clothespin, and lets nature take its course. The result, as seen throughout her house, is naturally lovely.

Carmen's home is featured in our January 2014 issue.

Written by Nancy Hedberg
Photographed by Bill Mathews
Styled by Gloria Gale