Air-dry flowers, with style

Make your own drying rack for summer flowers

Summer flowers such as hydrangeas and lavender are beautiful, even when tied in bunches and hung upside down to dry. So rather than dangle them from the rafters in a garage or garden shed, why not let them dry where you can see them better? The drying rack pictured at left is pretty enough to set on a patio or in a corner of the garden. It's also convenient: You can clip and hang bunches of blooms without leaving the garden. (Where summer rains are common, keep your trellis indoors.)

TIME: Less than 1 hour, plus drying paint

COST: Less than $25

TOOLS AND MATERIALS

  • Spray or exterior latex paint (optional)
  • Terra-cotta pot, 13 inches in diameter
  • Trellis, about 24 inches square, with two "feet," each about 10 inches long
  • Gravel or crushed rock
  • Colored rock (sold in pet stores for aquariums; optional)


DIRECTIONS

1. Paint the pot and trellis; allow them to dry.

2. Holding the trellis in the center of the pot with its bottom horizontal piece resting on the pot rim and its feet deep in the pot, pour gravel or crushed rock into the pot to within 3 inches of the pot rim. When the pot is full, the gravel will hold the trellis upright. If desired, finish with a 1-inch layer of colored rock.

5 unusual flowers for drying

Baby's breath, cockscomb, hydrangea, larkspur, roses, statice, and strawflowers have long been favored flowers for drying. But the five unusual ones listed below also dry well. Harvest the flowers in the morning.

Cupid's dart (Catananche caerulea). Lavender blue perennial to 2 feet tall. Harvest when fully open.

Immortelle (Xeranthemum annuum). Annual in mixed colors to 21/2 feet tall. Harvest when fully open and at peak color.

Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius). Yellow-orange annual, 1 to 3 feet tall. Harvest when in bud or just at peak color.

Sea holly (Eryngium amethustinum). Light to dark metallic blue perennial, 2 to 3 feet tall. Harvest when flowers turn blue.

Pincushion flower (Scabiosa stellata). Greenish to bronze annual to 11/2 feet tall. Harvest as soon as petals drop.

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