Harvesting strawflowers

My first helichrysum crop are in.

I have been pleasantly surprised how wacky these flowers are in the garden. Long tall spikes of many-leaved mysteries.. and then a tiny, tiny button of colour at very tip.

When I have a tall leggy flower that I have grown from seed, I’m more than happy to pinch out hard and watch the plant branch out into a multi- stemmed beast.

These helichrysums are different. So far I have a lot of tall stalks and I can’t work out how to pinch out. Yet.

Their flowers come out dry and papery straight off. And I read that you need to harvest before they open up fully to reveal the yellow centres.

Apparently they dry better that way.

But the yellow centres are lovely and silky soft. The only strokeable part of the whole flower.

If you have ever played in rock pools as a kid you will know these flowering sea anemones that waft and wave in the water.

The strawflowers look just like them.

I’ll definitely sow different colours next season. to give myself a bit of variety.

The flowers are so close together you seem to have to sacrifice the tiny flowers immediately below the top flower to get the plant to branch out. A bit like roses. And I do hate cutting the roses and knowing I will lose the two buds.

And if you do an image search of the flowers you don’t get the full stem and plant. Just the tight close-up of a flower.

Now I can see why. You don’t get a big flower length for a vase.

But it’s early in the season. I may be surprised.

And luckily I planted out enough flowers to do a bit of experimenting. I have chopped one whole row down in the hope they will grow a bit more over the season and give me more flowers.

Others I have cut just the top leader and hope I can get a bit more branching. At the moment those little flowers look more like buttons you would sew on a frock. Or dress up a hat band.

And the rest are just being prettily decorative on my metal flower circlet here above my desk.

The cat seems to be yearning to hatch this batch.

I have no idea why. No odour, no soft texture.

I suspect she was just being a pest.

But this early in the season I have to say that it’s great to have a good amount of flowers ready before the dahlias burst out. I wonder if they self seed….

Oh and as a post script to the nerdy among you.. behold the road is open! Here are some ‘action’ shots of the newly surfaced road which had its official reopening for the market this week.

Positively swanky.

I’m a bit alarmed there are absolutely no gutters. So I guess the biblical rain we experience just barrels down the street and ends up in people’s front rooms.