The words on wedding planners’ and gift givers’ lips in 2020 were dried flower bouquets. Did this trend from fresh to dried flowers happen overnight? Or have we been building up to recognising the advantages dried flower arrangements for some time now?
We dive a little deeper into the rich history of dried flowers here, and why we might be seeing dried flowers grace the tables and bouquets at weddings and special events near you soon.
Not just for potpourri
Before the advent of modern drainage and plumbing systems, city dwellers would make use of flowers to perfume the air and block out bad odours. It wasn’t so much a case of stopping to smell the roses, but carrying them around with you in dried form to stop other smells from coming your way.
(Potpourri Petal, Pixabay)
The way post-Renaissance urban inhabitants could carry around their dried flowers was in something called a pomander. Originally, pomanders were oranges studded with cloves and made transportable by tying a ribbon around the fruit. This was a good solution against the smells, but also used up valuable food resources. The same thing applied to the substance they first tried putting inside the spherical pomanders (derived from the word “pomme d’ambre/apple of amber”), which was the hugely rare and expensive ambergris.
The solution was to dry out fragrant flowers, stuff them into the pomander, and sprinkle crushed rose petal dust or orris root over the contents every week to freshen the perfuming effect. It was as cost effective as pomanders were ever going to get.
This tradition is kept alive today in the form of potpourri.
The ghastly history of fake flowers
There are many out there who will have bad memories of visiting elderly friends and family and finding a shallow bowl of old, dusty potpourri loitering on top of the toilet cistern. But this is not the only reason why dried flowers fell out of favour in the conspicuous consumption era of the 80s and 90s.
Fake flowers became popular in the post-war era for many reasons. There was no money to buy fresh flowers and flower farms and gardens had been sewn with vegetables during the war. There were no fresh flowers to dry out to create bridal bouquets and dried flower arrangements like there had been in the past. To fill the gap, manufacturers began producing artificial flowers.
Instead of taking a leaf out of ancient oriental and Italian craftsmanship, and creating flowers out of silk, glass, and metal, the West thought it would be a good idea to make flowers out of plastic. This is the reason why we associate plastic flowers with the 60s, reaching the peak of their popularity in the 70s.
Fortunately for dried flowers, the financial boom in the 80s made fake plastic flowers fall out of favour, and fresh flowers came to represent wealth and status.
What caused the change to dried flowers?
Why dried flower bouquets and wedding arrangements have become so popular in the second decade of the 21st century can be summed up in two words: air miles.
Consumers are choosing to go seasonal with their fresh produce shopping and putting fruit and vegetables labelled “Import” back down on the shelf, and this is the same reason why they are turning their backs on exotic fresh flowers in favour of buying home grown or indigenous dried flower species – because it’s what’s best for the environment.
Dried flowers are lighter to transport, require no water or expensive misting machinery to maintain their freshness, and can be stored without recourse to climate controlled warehouses. That adds up to a far smaller carbon footprint, and consumers care enough to make the change.
Fresh flowers don’t have the same appeal as they did in the last century. Watching movies and TV shows on live streaming and seeing a traditional wedding with acres of fresh flowers now comes across as a little bit bourgeois and careless.
Economically, dried flowers grown and delivered within a country’s borders is a great alternative for home decorating, and can keep overheads low in the tourism accommodation sector as well. Dried flower arrangements in hotel lobbies and budget-friendly bed and breakfasts give a nice welcoming touch without requiring daily replenishing.
There are dried flower suppliers in Gold Coast, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, in fact, all over Australia, who are dedicated to growing and harvesting the most beautiful native grass, fern, and flower species for dried flower bars across the country.
What are the most popular dried flowers?
Needless to say, you aren’t going to find bunches of withered roses in any Australian dried flower bars near you! Native blooms, such as the Silver Dollar eucalyptus, Ozzie daisy, and banksia hardly need any treatment before they are ready to use in a dried flower arrangement – they look the same whether dried or fresh.
Dried hydrangeas and South African King Proteas (related to banksias, waratahs, and grevilleas), now grown here in Australia because of the similar climates, are very popular dried flower choices. Their delicate colouring is perfect for arrangements and bridal bouquets.
All dried blooms and foliage have zero pollen, and this has two advantages for consumers: they are hypoallergenic and they don’t have pollenated stamens to stain clothing or surfaces.
Do dried flowers offer a wide variety and selection?
Dried flowers come in a rainbow of prettiest pastel shades and bolder vibrant colours. There is a wide choice of textures and lengths as well. You can visit your nearest dried flower bar for a pick and mix experience, or order a dried flower bouquet delivery online.
Because every flower, grass, and fern has the same preservation process used to capture their shape when they are at the peak of perfection, these beautifully unspoilt blooms stay presentation ready forever. They are dried out in a large, customized chamber or room, and treated with a solution consisting of glycerine, dye, water, and stabilizer. It is this process that provides dried flower arrangers with the huge array of colours from which to choose.
Here’s what some dried flower fans have to say about their switch to this new floral medium:
“It’s nice to hand someone a bunch of flowers and know it’s not going to drip all over their carpet or clothing.”
“I love gifting dried flowers to my friends and family, because they don’t have to go running to find a vase right away.”
“I was more than happy to say goodbye to smelly old vase water that stinks out a room when the ‘fresh flowers’ inside it are not even one week old yet.”
“I’ve been let down in the past when I’ve bought fresh flowers that have wilted and drooped before I’ve even arrived home.”
“Dried flowers smell even better than fresh flowers after a spritz of refresher fragrance or dried flower scent.”
Suffice it to say that dried flowers are here to stay. There are so many reasons to appreciate the history of dried flowers – because it all got us to where we are now – with exquisite dried flower bars and bouquets in Australia.