How long can you make the summer last?

 

I love flowers: their colour; their perfume; their shape and their transience.

I like birds, I sort of like lichens, grass is tolerable. Winter is therefore rather dull to say the least. I look at birds, but they keep flying off. Lichens stay put, grasses are cut down and seed heads disperse. Ice makes pretty patterns in the puddles and snow can be beautiful, but nothing compares to a flower.

The months of winter are very, very long- so to dry the last flowers of summer and enjoy them at leisure, is some small compensation.

This summer I grew straw flowers and, as long as you pick them before they open, they make wonderfully coloured flowers for a winter arrangement . I have a marvellously sturdy yellow tansy that is covered in flowers perfect for drying and I bought a fresh bunch of stacis from the market that dried infront of the stove and keeps its colour perfectly.

I have shoved them in an old wine jug and so far they still smell of summer and are lovely: fulfilling all of my requirements, except transience.

Making the summer last or gothic inspiration.

 

Most of the flowers of summer fade, but some can be kept all year to decorate the house during the dark winter months.image

I have already written about my favourite dried flower:  Lunaria annula or honesty , which is really the lovely delicate silver inner seed case stripped and  revealed, but other garden flowers will also maintain their beauty for months.image

Hydrangeas come in many shapes and sizes and all of their flowers can be picked, hung up and dried, or if like me, you have no time for dangling plants on a line, you simply pick a few fresh heads and put them in a vase with no water and they will dry themselves – no effort required at all!

imageYellow Yarrow , Achillea millefolium  is equally easy.  Just pick some wonderful sturdy yellow flowers and put them in a vase without water where they dry, unwilted and stay colourful for the whole year.   You can get fancy and make arrangements by combining  white hydrangeas and yellow yarrow, and  make surprisingly elegant gifts in no time at all.

I have had a bunch of yellow yarrow in a vase next to my bath and when lying soaking in some bubbles and gazing up at the underside of the flowers one afternoon, I had an extraordinary revelation about how the medieval builders of Europe came up with the idea of gothic fan vaulting. The supporting stems of the flowers reach up under the flat head of fused flowers in exactly the same way that fan vaulting spreads out from column in the cloisters of Gloucester cathedral.image

I wonder which master builder lay drowsing in a garden and looking up into the yarrow, decided to recreate this botanical masterpiece in stone?

Going to seed part 2- honestly!

I thought my last post didn’t really do justice to the luminous beauty of the seed cases of honesty, so I have been busy peeling back the dry brown covers to reveal the silver moon inners and just to impress, I have shoved them in a vase too! These will keep for years, should you so wish, and currently brighten up the landing in my home.

The end of my holiday grows ever closer and my garden will be relegated to an hour in the evening if I am lucky from next week. It physically pains me to leave it every day knowing things are growing without me to see them, birds are feeding, insects are buzzing and my cats are frisking and brisking while I am locked indoors with only a few pot plants and a glimpse of the clouds to remind me of my garden.

Oh what we do to pay for cat food and seeds!!