Words by Marléna Ahearn
Photos by Julia Merrell
Jill Bower, owner, grower, and designer for Erie Way Flowers has been cultivating since she was young. Her family owns and operates Erie Way Tree Farm, where they sell Christmas trees and her infamous dried wreaths. Erie Way Flowers was created from her passion for flowers and preserving their beauty.
As a Christmas tree farmer over thirty years, Jill has an abundance of experience growing and cultivating—a talent she translates to her flower farm. “I found there was a movement in this country to raise and sell local flowers. I realized there was a market for it and decided to give it a whirl,” says Jill. She joined the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers and her vision took off. Today, she covers flower-needs of all kinds from full-service weddings to a la carte and DIY flower buckets that people can put their own spin on.
Whether you’re looking to preserve a special memory, make a floral wreath, or just preserve your garden’s beauty all summer, here are Jill's foolproof steps to air drying flowers.
Harvest your flowers when they are just beginning to open to full color. They will continue to open as they dry so harvesting late into their bloom time, depending on the flower type, may cause them to lose their petals. The flowers on the left are perfect, the flower on the right is too far along. Keep eyes on your garden so as not to miss the best harvest time.
Keep your freshly harvested flowers out of the bright sunlight in order to preserve their vibrant colors. Sunlight will fade colors—even if it’s through a window. Even the heat from the sun can damage the delicate dried flowers, so keep them cool, away from the sun, and moisture-free.
Prepare To Dry
Strip the excess leaves from the stems and bundle your flowers in small bunches with a rubber band. Cut the stems to the desired length. Pro tip: Stagger the flower heads in the bunches so that the air can fully dry the entire flower head.
Hang them upside down in a dark, dry place that has good air circulation like an attic or closet. Make sure you have adequate space between the bunches to insure good airflow for the best drying results! Wait 2-3 weeks for them to dry then use them for décor or to make a beautiful wreath!
Jill urges people to not be afraid to experiment with air drying! You can do it with all of the beautiful things growing around you, such as grasses, seed pods and native flowers! Variety and experimentation to get your perfect bundle of dried flowers are key.