When Elleni Pearce thought she’d lost everything, it was, ironically, a product that has had the life sucked out of it that saved her.

“Every event in my calendar got wiped within a week,” says Pearce, a Melbourne event stylist, about what happened to her business when the pandemic hit. “I thought, ‘Oh my god, I’ve just lost everything I worked for’.” Since launching a business during COVID-19 selling preserved flower arrangements out of Melbourne, Elleni Pearce’s fortunes have bloomed.Credit:Simon Schluter And then Pearce, whose clients have included Westfield, Pandora, and the AFL, remembered something she’d bought for a store that, pre-pandemic, she’d planned on launching: preserved flowers.

“I can’t keep up with the hydrangeas,” she says, of the sorbet-coloured flowers now flying out her door – among many other freeze-dried varieties of blooms including fairy-floss blue mini gypsophilia and pale peach stock flowers, that she mixes in bouquets – since she launched a new business, everbloome, in late April.

She’s sold about 1000 bouquets since launch.

Pearce is far from the only person enjoying the preserved flower boom.

When COVID-19 hit, Jane Lampe made a massive heart-shaped wreath featuring dried and preserved flowers – among them bright pink amaranthus, palm leaves, and bright yellow billy buttons – to hang in the window of The Depot cafe in Bondi, a long-time client, so that the cafe could still have a floral decoration, even though it was shut, and no one would be there to change fresh flowers. Jane Lampe, owner of Floreat in Sydney, has found sales of her wreaths made from preserved and dried flowers have boomed during COVID-19.Credit:Edwina Pickles After that, the requests came pouring in from people wanting some for their homes.

“They’ve been very popular,” says Lampe, owner of Darlinghurst florist Floreat, adding that people are hanging them on internal doors of their homes and their front doors.

How did preserved and dried flowers become such a major interior trend? When, as Vogue once put it, the “bad rap” dried flowers used to have meant that they were, “at their worst, associated with dusty homes and death”?

Unlike the dried flowers of yore, this new preserved variety – frequently from south-east Asia – are usually dried, sometimes by freezing (though there are other methods) at their peak, and after having their colour extracted, have a new, bright colour, never seen before in nature, put back in.

As a result of the new preserving process, they look like fresh flowers rather than the shrivelled dried flowers of 1980s drawing rooms. Many of the dried flowers that florists like Pearce are featuring retain their shape well, too, especially natives like paper daisies, billy buttons, and banksia.

“They’re a different kind of beautiful,” says Rose Ottley, a Wollongong-based florist, of preserved flowers. “And they can last, if you look after them, for years.” Ottley’s “everlasting terrariums”, dried vase arrangements, and pressed flower frames – with pansies, lavender and fennel flowers she’s pressed herself – have all grown in popularity during the pandemic.

The preserved boom, says Pearce, not only […]