Making a flower drying rack

Ooh get you, almost like an Instagram post.

I decided not to really commit to Instagram owing to the fact I do not have that extra hour in the day I would no doubt devote to ogling. But things must have seeped into my brain by osmosis.

I have lots of flowers I am growing this year to use in dried flower arrangements. Helichrysums mainly.

They are the ones growing lustily on the perimeter of this potager bed. The middle ones are the sulking billy buttons. Craspedia. A bit wan and spindly so far.

billy button dried flowers by winter's moon |

They are all the rage apparently. (This one is from

And here is the lesson I learned.

I was sitting here in my office looking online at displays of Australian stawflowers – helichrysums (Guardian lifestyle column, honest)

And the thought hit me. Why am I looking at dried flower arrangements on a sunny day in Spring on a computer when I actually have more of my own plants to get into the ground and get growing?

That seems to be the curse of social media. And yes, the irony is not lost on me you are reading this confection of social media as I type.

I am so lucky to have this enormous playground of a garden to try my own thing. To be influenced, but also to make and show.

And having been led down the billy button path I may have missed something right under my nose.

I found the seeds when I was in Sydney; germinated them, grew them on – (with difficulty! they are not lusty plants) and now I have planted them out. Add in watching an effing mole or mole rat dig right underneath the whole row last night I wonder why I bothered.

Especially as I have a very fair version of billy buttons right there in front of me on the steep bank above the courtyard.

Achillea coarctata. Perennial, drought tolerant, tough as boots, cheery. I grow them on the rocks here as they will merrily spread in a kinder climate. Did I mention shade tolerant and pretty en masse as well?

And best of all a great candidate for drying to add to bouquets when all the dahlias and zinnias have done their best but I still need stock.

Now here is the poncy bit. I’m sure I saw Angel from Escape to the Chateau make chandeliers out of these things. I have five metal rims from two barrels that came from wine making friends at Ampuis. Cote Rotie.

They served as garden planters for years and then the bottoms rotted and I tried to repair them and ended up with barrel staves galore and these metal rings. Trip hazards in a cellar.

Excuse the mattresses in the background of the next shot. It’s not an open air dormitory for the hardy. They are the crash mats below the climbing wall.

A bit of wire (didn’t bother with a scrub) and then one good sturdy nail in the beam of my office and good to go.

I have stripped the leaves off the achillea and tied them up in batches of ten. We shall see how these first ones go. It’s bright in my office and warm. So they might work here. They could work in the garden room under the new extension, but that is still off limits as the nesting bird is still on her eggs and it will be a while until they fledge.

I could have done a proper instagram-friendly picture by tidying my desk below, touching up the paint on the wall behind (I can see the old turquoise paint coming through) and making that ring a teensy bit straighter.

Let’s just pause and guess what’s not going to happen. I tidied last week, before all the house guests arrived!

(Should have snapped a shot.)

Failing that I can put one up in the cooler and darker basement. if the colours really fade up here in the house.

I can work out what goes best where when the billy buttons finally flower. Or the strawflowers I hope to harvest are so abundant that I need to dry them all over the house.

I’ll have a word with that mole rat and see if it will leave me some garden left after the tunnelling and destruction.