Dry your flowers to make contemporary arrangements or handicrafts like potpourri.
The days of twee baskets filled with dried flowers are gone. Dried floral arrangements have reached new heights, taking on a more sleek, stylised look. Dry flowers upside down in small bunches or lay individual flowers face down on paper in a warm, dark, dry place.
When making your own paper, add dried petals to the pulp for a fancy finish. Rip waste paper into tiny pieces and soak overnight. Add petals, then use a deckle and mould from a paper-making kit to lift and drain – and you have yourself a sheet of paper!
Remember those fluffy grass tails you used to pick as a child? Known as bunnies tails or hare's tail grass ( Lagurus ovatus), this annual weed makes an excellent addition to dried flower arrangements. Dye the fluffy heads with natural plant dyes or fruit juice.
Once picked, strawflowers Xerochrysum (syn. Bracteantha), also known as paper daisies, pretty much last forever. What look like petals are actually paper-like bracts; the bracts surround a central cluster of small flowers. The flowers hold their colour well.
Harvest a selection of flowers and herbs with a strong scent, like lavender and roses. Harvest fragrant leaves too, like lemon verbena and rose geranium. For colour, add calendula, zinnia and strawflower petals. Lay them out in a warm, dry, airy room for a couple of weeks to dry. Petals are quicker to dry than whole flowerheads; scented geranium leaves often take longer. Make sure the flowers are fully dry before using. Place in an airtight container. Pick a dominant scent you like best (floral, citrusy, herbal or spicy), add 4-5 drops of fragrant oil. Choose your next favourite scent as an accent, and add 1-2 drops. Seal the container and leave for 24 hours for the scent to permeate the flowers. If the perfume isn't to your liking, add more, or a different, fragrant oil. Note: essential oils, as opposed to synthetic fragrant oils, provide therapeutic value but they do not last as long. If using, you'll need to use orris root powder as well. Just add the oils to tablespoon orris root powder for a longer-lasting scent.
In days long past, housekeepers of large country estates would create fragrant potpourri as a means of perfuming rooms.