Prolonging the Garden

This being our first year living on a property with an existing mature garden, I have savored every flower and hated to see any of them them just wilt and disappear. I thus embarked on a mission to preserve as many as I could so we could enjoy them inside through the winter months.


I had dried hydrangeas a couple of times in the past, and I love the look when they’re done right. Since the Rockhkaven garden has an abundant supply of hydrangeas, I focused my attention on them first. How do you like the wreath I made with a grapevine wreath base? So easy! I just kept adding blooms as they were ready until I filled in all the holes.

dried hydrangea wreath, Rockhaven B&B, Harpers Ferry
I mounted the wreath over a vintage window and hung it in our dining room

Then, I got a little obsessed and tried to save every bloom I could. No bloom left behind, you know! At some point I think Christian was a little worried that the house would be overrun with them. They’re so pretty though!

Dried hydrangeas, Rockhaven B&B, Harpers Ferry
There are still multiple vases of these around the house — including in the guest suite —  although I finally got ruthless and weeded out the ones that were less than perfect.

You know that the trick to drying hydrangeas is to wait and cut them after they begin drying naturally, right? If you cut them too soon, they just wilt and look all crinkly. Believe me, I know from experience!

But then I hated to throw out the pretty petals that were mixed on blooms with wilted petals. I just love all those shades of pastel blue and lavender, so I came up with this idea:

dried hydrangea petals, Rockhaven B&B, Harpers Ferry
Flowers in pretty vintage bottles and canning jars! Yes, I pulled off every one of those petals individually. (I think questions about my sanity have now been settled.)


While traveling back in late June, we stopped at a sweet little antique shop in Thomas, WV, call Ella & Company. Ella inspired me to try hanging flowers to dry them, so I began experimenting with different kinds of flowers from the garden to see what worked. For a while they were hanging from the chandelier in the dining room, which probably also worried Christian.

I eventually settled on hanging them from some vintage shutters we found at an antiques fair.

dried flowers, Rockhaven B&B, Harpers Ferry
The red roses and pink spray roses did great. The purple ones to the left are from our butterfly bush. There’s also a couple sprigs from our money plant. To the right of the roses are pink dahlias in a vase and goldenrod hanging.

I’m not sure where they will all ultimately wind up, but I have found places for a few, including the two bunches flanking my hydrangea wreath in the photo above.

dried roses and drill bits, Rockhaven B&B, Harpers Ferry
I thought it would be fun to juxtapose these dried roses with the vintage drill bits we found.
And I tucked a dried red rose in with a glass of pretty silver spoons.


Then, I was poking around Pinterest and was reminded of flower pressing.  Now, I had actually plucked and pressed some pink dogwood blooms back in the spring. I put them between two pieces of framed glass in the guest suite, but then I forgot about that option temporarily.

pink dogwood blooms, Rockhaven B&B, Harpers Ferry
I secured them in place with a small dot of white glue behind the thick centers, where it wouldn’t show through.

Now, yes! I had an alternative to drying, because not every flower dries well. Plus, I had this cool 1950’s book on antique furniture that I found in a used bookstore for a dollar last year. I’ve just been waiting for the right opportunity to use some of the pages.

Pressed flowers, Rockhaven B&B, Harpers Ferry
I honestly can’t even identify all of these flowers for you. Left, the pink flowers are a variety of rose, but I don’t know what the purple one is. Center is a Japanese anemone and fern. Right is a sweet pea and an upside-down anemone.

When I had framed more than enough pressed flowers, I was happy to pick up a new idea last time I stopped in at The Vintage Lady here in Harpers Ferry. The pressed flowers are decoupaged onto an empty wine bottle. Then I dropped in a small string of battery-powered LED lights.

Decorative bottle, pressed flowers, Rockhaven B&B, Harpers Ferry
The flowers on this bottle include black-eyed Susan, cone flower, sweet pea, pansy and more I don’t know the names of!

Now that it’s nearly Halloween, I’m  finished with flower preservation for this year.  I’ll be watching for new ideas to use next summer and maybe trying to figure out how to share some of these beauties with people who might actually want them.

And, of course, I’ll be enjoying all the memories of our bountiful garden that surround us indoors until Spring comes around again!

(Let me know if you see anything you want.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *