Harvesting and drying
Most everlastings should be picked when their flowers are just short of full bloom and not wet from rain or watering. Generally, late morning is best (after the dew dissipates but before the midday heat), or at dusk. Check plants daily. Many open quickly once they begin to bloom; some continue to open after they’re picked.
Drying is easy if you remember a few key points: Everlastings should be hung (or placed) in a humid-free spot away from direct light and, ideally, somewhere with air movement to speed the process. Cook uses her dark, dry barn, but urban dwellers need to get creative. A warm, dark laundry room or airy garage can be ideal. Basements may work, depending on air flow and dampness (mine is dry and airy in late summer, so it’s perfect). Kitchens might be an option, too.
Handle everlastings with care; many are more fragile fresh than dried. Hang them upside down and group them loosely together with elastic bands. Tying them too tightly hinders air circulation and crushes and distorts their shape. Flowers can also be dried upright in cases, jars or tin cans. Stretch chicken wire across the opening and insert the stems into the holes to keep blooms separated. Most everlastings dry in one to three weeks or longer, depending on bloom size, moisture content and drying conditions.
Cynthia Cook, owner of Forest Glen Herb Farm, Lambton Shores, Ontario, lists these “must haves” for the garden:
- Winged everlasting white offers a nice contrast
- Cockscomb celosia fabulous texture and colour
- Globe amaranth intense colour and easy to grow
- Statice resilient and dependable
- Immortelle looks good all season and is long-lasting
Hilary Bellis, owner of It Can Be Arranged, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, names these essentials for flower arranging:
- Kiwi (Actinidia spp.) or grape vine (Vitis spp.), to create loops and frames
- Sweet Annie because it’s delicate-looking and scented
- Lavender (Lavandula cvs.) for colour and fragrance
- Love-in-a-mist seedheads for bicoloured beauty and structure
- Northern sea oats seedheads (Chasmanthium latifolium) for movement
- Check out Forever in bloom for step-by-step instructions to creating a fabulous everlasting flower arrangement!