What do you imagine when you think of dried flowers – dusty, faded bouquets with a touch of the Miss Havisham about them? Ironic then that for the last few years, dried blooms have been a hot wedding trend, and one that, this season, has made the leap into interiors.
Pre-pandemic, they could be spotted at chic weddings, as decor in cool restaurants and even as a backdrop, or prop, at fashion shows (Net-a-Porter and Jimmy Choo both featured dried blooms last year). The trend has grown with lockdown as fresh-cut blooms become harder to find – online craft marketplace Etsy has recorded a 93pc jump in searches for dried flowers in recent months.
"Dried flowers have been big in weddings for at least two years (maybe three for the very trendy), but I really noticed them moving into the home sphere about a year ago," says wedding planner Kate O’Dowd (loveandgatherings.com). "I was instantly a fan. For weddings, they offer a distinctly cool aesthetic that’s very suited to urban events; a minimalist alternative to the swathes of blousey peonies that work so well in the countryside. And it’s the same for home decor, I think. A few sticks of pampas in a big floor vase or some sprigs of dried mimosa in bud vases just say effortlessly cool, to me."
Their appeal as props for events is easy to understand – they last longer than fresh-cut blooms, for starters.
"However, I’d venture to say that dried flowers are even more suited to home spaces, given that’s where you really want them to last," says Kate, whose own Dublin redbrick features regularly in magazine shoots. "I have them all over the house – finally, something to put in my ridiculous stock of vases," she laughs, "I think they’re worth the switch, if only so I never to have to smell stinky flower water again."
For Kate, there is a place for dried blooms in every room and home decor style: grasses, alongside palm spears and fuzzy cotton stems, lend an earthy and relaxed feel – "great in a kitchen full of raw wood, heritage paint and crumpled linens". More petite varieties (like globe thistle, starflower and yarrow) look great in mixed bunches "in a cosy William Morris-clad sitting room". Bright and poppy Billy balls are adorable in kids’ rooms, and you don’t have to worry about water spills.
Dried floral artist Bex Partridge, who has a new book Everlastings (Hardie Grant, €20.30) on the subject, creates arrangements, wreaths and even modern pressed flower frames to add the texture, interest and life that flowers bring without the upkeep and expense. She grows and forages the blooms for her projects.
The trick to avoiding arrangements that look twee and old fashioned, she believes, lies in mixing dried blooms with interesting, sculptural elements. "Grasses, seed heads, dried leaves, ferns and branches all give texture and bulk," she says. "Playing with scale – a few sprigs in a large vase, or a wreath on a brass hoop surrounded by lots […]
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