La Louve

La Louve
La Louve...Garden of the She-Wolf, Bonnieux, France. La Louve is a private French contemporary garden, open to the public, in the town of Bonnieux in the Vaucluse Department of France. It was created beginning in 1986 by Nicole de Vésian, textile designer for the Paris fashion house of Hermès. It is classified by the French Ministry of Culture as one of the Notable Gardens of France.


Preserving Fresh Flowers, Part 2

In a previous post, I wrote about which flowers last the longest after they've been cut. Now, let's take a look at how we can preserve the flower petals when the flower is dying but the petals still retain their color and form.

There are several preservation methods:
  1. Hang Drying
  2. Water Drying
  3. Oven Drying
1. Hang drying is the best way to dry stemmed flowers that will be used in dried flower arrangements. Collect 3-5 stems per bunch of flowers, remove all the leaves from the stems, secure the ends with a rubber band and hang in a dark, dry area until all the petals feel dry to the touch. The time will, of course, vary depending on the size of the flowers.

2. Water drying works well for hydrangeas, Queen Anne's lace and baby's breath. Place flowers in a container filled with a small amount of water. Place the container in a warm area away from sunlight. As the water evaporates, the flowers keep their natural look. Allow several days for the process.

3. Oven drying is the process that works best when one wants to dry only the petals of the flowers. It does take attention, though, as the petals dry quickly. 

Gather petals from the flowers, place on a cookie sheet in a single layer, set your oven on low (my oven only goes as low as 170 degrees) and leave the oven door ajar. Watch carefully so the petals dry but do not burn. I've found that 12 minutes at 170 degrees works the best, but I also close the oven door. 

Carefully remove the dried petals from the sheet as they will be brittle and delicate. Place in a clean bowl or pretty jar. I process several sheets of petals at one time while my oven is still warm.

A mix of pale pink roses and peonies

I plan to dry the hydrangeas using the water drying method. However, both the yellow roses and the white hydrangeas are almost two weeks old and still looking fresh.
The pictures above are of the roses when fresh; below, their petals dried two days ago. From 6 fresh roses (Knock Out), the yield was 1 cup of dried petals. From the mixed yellow and pink roses, I have 1 1/2 cups of dried petals. At this point, you would add rose oil to the mix which duplicates the original scent of the fresh flowers, carefully mixing the petals so most of them receive some of the oil. A wooden spoon works well. 

The roses were a strong burgundy red but dried to the color seen here.

The pink and yellow roses kept their true color but dried to a paler version. I'm drying two more trays of rose petals as I write this.

I have four large Knock Out rose bushes in front of the house. For years their petals dropped, dried and blew away. No longer! I should have at least 1 pound of dried petals by the end of the summer.  

Note that this is not true potpourri which contains other ingredients. My favorite book for making potpourri, sachets, bath oils and dried flower arrangements is "The Scented Room" by Barbara Milo Ohrbach. The book is long out of date (published in 1986) but can probably be purchased on Amazon.

The rose oil can be purchased on line, but it's pricey. You can make your own, but you would need large quantities of petals...some for the dried roses and some for the oil extract.

  1. Bring a few inches of water to a boil in a saucepan. Remove from heat.
  2. Pour a cup of oil in a glass jar. Grapeseed oil is a good choice. Olive oil (opt for the lighter kind) can work in a pinch, but I don't like the added aroma.
  3. Gently crush a cup of rose petals and place in the oil. Swirl the jar around to coat the petals.
  4. Cover the jar and place into the hot water. Warming the oil will help release the scent from the rose petals. When the water cools, you can move the jar to a warm area like a sunny windowsill.
  5. Leave the jar alone in the warm area for at least 24 hours.
  6. Strain the oil through a cheesecloth, pressing the petals to extract as much oil as you can.
  7. If you want a stronger-smelling oil, you can repeat steps 1-6 with fresh petals. You may need to repeat the process 5 or 6 times to get the desired level of scent.
  8. Pour clear oil into a dark bottle with a lid (dark glass will help block out sunlight and keep the oil more stable).
Please leave comments and let me know if any of these methods work for you.  Meanwhile, good luck!


Preserving Fresh Flowers, Part 1

Mother's Day is the busiest holiday for florists, and I love receiving deliveries from my daughters who live in other states and can't always be with us. However, these gorgeous bouquets last for a week, perhaps more, depending on the flowers. So, being the thrifty (aka cheap-skate) person I am, I like to preserve as many blooms as possible.

I hope you find the following information helpful in preserving your fresh flowers, whether from the florist, garden or local supermarket.

The Longest Lasting Flowers:

Rose ~ Vase life is 7 to 10 days, if you keep them in cool water. Buy roses with firm heads. Gently squeeze the bud and check for firmness. Always cut roses underwater (to avoid air pockets), then place in a water-filled vase.

Orchid ~ Vase life is 14 to 21 days. Trim Orchid stems and change their water everyday, or at least every second day. Remove all faded flowers.

Carnation ~Vase life is 14 to 21 days. Remove the leaves and petals at water level and below. White Carnations can be 'colored' by adding food coloring to the vase water. They slowly drink up the dyes and change color.


 Lily ~ Vase life is 14 days. Always carefully remove the pollen to prevent staining, using gloves or paper towel. Remove faded blossoms to encourage re-blooming. However, beware of lilies like the "Star Gazer" which has a strong scent and can be over-powering in small rooms.
Gladiolas  - Vase life is 14 days. Thin out and remove all the fading flowers as they die. Glads bloom from the bottom up so removing those spent blossoms doesn't leave an unattractive stem. I even like Glads when they're very short...perfect for tiny vases.

Chrysanthemum ~ Vase life 25 to 30 days, the longest of all cut flowers. Add clean water to the vase every day, trimming their stems about 1/8". Obvious, buy Mums with the longest stems so you'll have enough near the end of their life to still make a decent size bouquet. I've found that Spider Mums don't last very long, so I opt for the daisy-like ones, while violet and yellow Mums last longer than the white ones.

While those little packets of preservatives are handy, I like using my own liquid preservative. Here's the recipe:

1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon bleach
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 quart lukewarm water.