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Lasting Beauties

Story by Johanna Silver
Photography by Carson Downing
Produced by Scott J. Johnson

Dried flowers and foliage offer constancy and unfading beauty through the change of the seasons.

As the seasons shift, so does our pace of life,

beckoning us to slow down and turn inward. Cued by shorter days and a chill in the air, the garden joins us in the deceleration. Luckily, our mantels and tabletops needn’t become bare of their treasures revealed in warmer times. Dried flowers and foliage, whether foraged or purchased, add year-round reminders of nature’s bounty. Instead of rich fragrances, dried stems offer delicate architecture that summons us for a closer look. Bright hues give way to more muted color palettes, enhancing feelings of at-home calm. Leaves and seed heads, in particular, offer a fresh take on a timeless tradition, lending a sense of subtle movement to each arrangement. Needing no water or care, these stems ask nothing of us in return. And should you take the time to arrange them—a meditative task in its own right—you can rest assured that the still life you create will be lasting.

When Arranging

- Vases with narrow mouths tend to create more structured arrangements, while wide-mouthed vessels will give way to fuller, larger arrangements.

- Grasses already feel windswept. Go ahead and let them lean.

- Broad-leafed elements, like palm fronds or eucalyptus, make a compelling contrast to more delicate blooms.

- Sleek, muted vessels can help to modernize an arrangement.

The Upright Brigade

An inspiring cast of dried blooms, grass heads, and leaves to get you started on your preserved posy.

  1. Northern sea oats: Catching the light, seed heads add sparkle and elegance in dried arrangements.
  1. Palm spear: Dried palm fronds, painted gold and cut into spade shapes, are a good choice if you want a glamorous edge.
  1. Artemisia: With small leaves growing along the entirety of the stem, artemisia adds a rich textural component, as well as silvery color contrast. It’s most excellent as a backdrop in any dried arrangement.
  1. Field pennycress: Seeds of field pennycress shimmer like gold coins once dried and arranged, making what is usually a dreaded weed a lot harder to dislike.
  1. Setaria grass: The fluffy seed heads of this grass that’s also known as foxtail millet add softness in the vase.
  1. Yarrow: For when you want to tuck in subtle pops of color, yarrow comes in many shades of red, pink, yellow, and white.
  1. Pampas grass: For a tuft of texture, pampas grass is unparalleled. Even a few stems alone in a vase can deliver a big visual impact.
  1. Eucalyptus: Blond broad-leaf eucalyptus leaves add brightness and stature.
  1. Hydrangea ‘Annabelle’: The most classic of the bunch, hydrangea is a valued cut flower because of its long-lasting nature and two-tone appeal.
  1. Panicle hydrangea: The flowers of panicle hydrangea offer a more conical shape and a deeper coppery glow than other hydrangeas.
  1. Sinuata statice: Delicate tissue-paper-like flowers line winged stems for a lovely arching look.

This story was adapted for digital from the fall issue of Magnolia Journal.