The best dried flowers in a hot climate

The big question is: did I bring the stink of the silt in with me? I have (for some mad reason) been clearing the vegetation from the underground spring over in the duck pond area of the farm.

Whiffy work.

I hadn’t planned to do it. But seeing the Creature trying to drink from this wonderful year round spring at the base of a mulberry tree made me shudder. It was a pond scummy mess. So we both had a lovely hour raking out ‘matter’. Mostly dead and sludgy matter. The cat admired my work from the shade of the giant mulberry trunk.

I tried not to get splattered. It is wildlife central around here as it’s one of the only good springs where the deer and boar and foxes and badgers can come and drink. I’ll go back in a day’s time when all the silt has settled and see.

This is actually what it looks like when it was once (17 years ago!) cleaned.

And now I can see where the spring actually flows. More work needed.

Oh. You clicked on the link because you want to see beautiful flowers.

I do apologise.

Here you are.

This is the patch of the vegetable garden where I am growing flowers just for drying.

And the winner is this one. No need to beat about the bush.

Limonium sinuatum Sea Lavender. I bought a packet of Pastel Mixed from Chiltern Seeds.

It germinated well, grows well, doesn’t flop and behaves in the tight bed where I planted it. And I didn’t need to slavishy water, either.

I did read up a bit before harvesting, and you have to go in with secateurs before the flowers are fully out. They open gradually over a week.

And if I only grew one flower for drying this would be it.

But naturally I grew lots and here is my half yearly report.

I would say that the helichrysum (straw flower) varieties are pretty good once they get going in the garden. But of the half dozen I sowed, only the pink and the white germinated this year. Last year it seemed only the deep Red ones worked.

Bright rose and white (from Milli Proust) have given me quite a nice little crop. I cut a few daily and yield just a few flowers, but they are instant dried papery delights.

My other success albeit in smaller yields were the very pretty Limonium suworowii Rat Tail Statice, Pink Pokers.

But they are all over by July in this hot climate. I would have to take more care to grow them in shaded spots or with richer soil next year.

You get good stiff long stems from the plant. So they will be vital in the later flower bouquets when I am bored of dahlias and zinnias.

I had high hopes for the acroclinium roseum ‘double mixed’ from Sarah Raven.

But the poor stems of this lovely plant are so fragile I snapped off more than I harvested. And they loathed the drought conditions.

I did plant out a few of the fragile beasties in the big raised beds. But even carefully snipping the flowers each day did not give me a lot of blooms. The stems dry to stiff almost wire like stalks. And are brittle.

All the Gomphrena globosa seeds were erratic to germinate. And the closest I manage to see a flower was on the website from where I bought the seeds. I won’t be trying those again.

Nor will I sow millet. The panic miliaceum looked tall and handsome in May. But the heat just sapped their aesthetic chances. Dry, papery and frankly drought stricken stalks. That’s all I have.

You can glimpse the stalks (all yellowing and papery) in the far left of this shot. I don’t dare show you how badly they fared.

I did harvest some when they were still plump and with a purple tinge…

But I suspect even drying them will just be a thrill for the mice in the basement who will find the grains a nourishing store of protein over winter.

What has been a winner this year is the fun stuff. The amaranth. I do so love growing these. They germinate like weeds and the length of the flowering stalk is frankly hilarious.

I have to keep batting them out of the way from the circlet of drying flowers here above my head in the office.

The variety green thumb is not a success. It just looks like a crop of decent grains. Which it is.

But my preferred are Amaranthus caudatus ‘coral fountain’ (from both chiltern seeds and milli proust), Amaranthus dubius ‘garnet red’, plus ‘hot biscuits’ (a bit bland next to the zinging reds) and best of all the mystery one I harvested from Agnes’ vegetable garden and let it self seed.

Come the revolution we will be feasting on it while admiring its vivid deep red hue.

Or using them as wacky hair extensions to give ourselves a laugh.