If you’ve yet to pass a quiet hour stringing flowers this summer, consider this your encouragement. There will be long winter evenings aplenty for knitting or card playing or scrolling absently through Instagram, but the season for stringing bright blossoms onto small strings is now. Late summer and early fall bring all of the best drying flowers—gomphrena, and strawflowers, and marigolds, and brilliant celosia of all sorts—which means that if you string them up now, you’ll have lasting colorful flowers straight on through winter. These late summer beauties started showing up at the farmer’s market a few weeks ago and last week they made their way to my favorite corner bodega flower stand. When even the bodega is stocking a seasonal bloom, you know it’s time to give into temptation.
For my part, I’m especially hopeless in the face of cheerful gomphrena. Every August I’m compelled to bring home weekly bunches from the farmer’s market and stick the colorful—or not—pompoms around the apartment. They don’t last a terribly long time in water, but when I saw a friend post an image of a beautiful gomphrena-filled garland she found at a farmers’ market, and a day later I noticed a fresh load coming into the bodega, I scooped up a few big bunches to save for drying myself.
I snipped the heads off the stems while they were still fresh and strung them into garlands on thin 100-percent cotton bakers twine. I’d say this is about the thickest string you’d want to use, but feel free to experiment. Any regular old thread you have hanging around your sewing kit would work well, too, just remember that it needs to be a natural fiber if you’re hoping to eventually compost your garland.
I decided to leave some leaves on, but remember they’ll crisp up more readily than the flowers, so even though they look pretty while fresh, too many might result in a slightly crumbly garland.
I found it easiest to train my needle on center of the blossom and push straight through the middle. Every once in a while you might come across a flower that crumbles under the stress, but in general the gomphrena is hardy and forgiving.
As the flowers dry, the garlands lose a bit of their fluff and a bit of their color, but not so much that it will drastically change the look. (And don’t forget: When eventually you do tire of this bit of décor, the best part about it is you can put it directly into the compost.)
I like the garlands hung vertically, but of course bunting-style swags or loops or anything you like is what you should do.
These purple blossoms satisfied a certain purple-loving someone in our house, but you can also find lovely rust-colored gomphrena and you wouldn’t be wrong to include any of the other good drying flowers mentioned above.
There you have it, a pleasant way to pass an extra hour if you have one, and the very lovely bonus of bright summer flowers that stick around long after the season fades.