Discover Flowers Forever a beautiful new book by Bex Partridge with 3 signed copies to be won – scroll down for details on how to enter.
Please note: this competition is now closed and the winners notified
When Bex got in touch to ask if I might like to review her new book Flowers Forever (Hardie Grant) I didn’t hesitate. Her first book Everlastings is an essential and inspiring introduction to dried flowers and got me seriously hooked.
I spent a lot of time during lockdown nurturing flowers I’d grown from seed and learning how to dry them was a joy – a beautiful alternative to chucking them onto the compost heap once their first lease of life was over. What’s so addictive is that you’re not just trying to capture the life they had before. By drying them you create a whole new and very beautiful form to create with all over again. There’s a sustainability and slow, quiet creativity to this that really resonates with me.
I feel like I’ve grasped the very basics of flower drying now, so I was excited to explore the subject further. In Flowers Forever Bex shares her complete process – right through from the sowing of seeds, nurturing the soil to growing, harvesting and creating her beautiful designs.
She had me from chapter 1: The Beauty is in The Decay.
Dried flowers are not a replacement for fresh flowers but an additional and sustainable source of texture, tone and beauty for the home and this new book is essential reading on the subject.
Flowers Forever – a peek inside
Bex is passionate about sustainability and the natural world and she shares her knowledge of the eco benefits of working with dried flowers as well as how to make the most of our natural surroundings. In this beautifully photographed book, she takes the reader on a journey with practical advice on the process of growing, drying and working with dried flowers, sourcing materials sustainably as well as guidance on textures, tones and colours throughout the seasons.
There’s plenty of creative inspiration to enjoy with 11 modern dried flower design ideas suitable for all skill levels. Projects include Spring Branches (lichen covered winter branches embellished with pretty dried flower heads to create the feeling of everlasting blossom); how to make a magical, fleeting patch of Summer Meadow; a dramatic ‘Cloud’ installation and plenty of ideas in between.
Possibly my favourite design idea in the book is Bex’s dried flowers on fabric wall hanging (pictured below) and she is kindly sharing with us the step by steps to make it. Click to find out more: How to make a dried flower wall hanging – wildly beautiful by Bex Partridge
Sign up to Bex’s newsletter here and be the first to hear all her latest news and scroll down to enter our competition for a chance to win a signed copy of the book along with a set of notelets.
Q&A with Bex
I also wanted to bring Bex herself in here, to share with us some of her thoughts and feelings about the book. I love the answers she gave and I hope you enjoy discovering Flowers Forever as much as I did.
Q: What inspired you to write this book and what is your writing/creative process?
The book was inspired initially by the evolution of my work and the breadth of knowledge that I had garnered from the years growing, drying and creating with dried flowers. I wanted to share all this with my audience and the reader in a greater depth that what I was able to with my first book Everlastings. Then during the pandemic and after I had signed the contract for the book, we moved to Devon and my world and work expanded exponentially and the book became something far bigger than I ever thought or dreamt of.
Q: It’s beautifully photographed by Laura Edwards – why did you choose her for your project?
With Everlastings my publisher sent me two options for photographers that they felt would be a good fit for my work. Laura was one of them and after consulting with my good friend who is also a photographer we both felt that she had a wonderful ability to capture a story and the essence of a scene beyond the obvious. She is a lover of texture like me and will always find the beauty in the mundane, something I strive to show with my work too.
We are very free flowing when working together, often I will leave Laura to her own devices to wander round the garden or studio taking the images she thinks would be best and they invariably always hit the mark. One of the hardest parts of putting a book together is all those images you can’t squeeze in and many of my favourite images are those that didn’t make it for various reasons, mainly of the garden or of me harvesting flowers.
Q: What do you most hope your book gives to its readers?
I hope with the book and with everything I do, that I offer the reader an inspirational take on creating with dried flowers. The book itself is exactly that, with projects laid out in such a way that the reader can adapt them based upon the materials they have to work with, often those that can be plucked directly from the hedgerows or flower beds. I also hope the book shows readers that there is a different way to decorate homes and spaces, one that allows nature to come into our homes, softening edges and lifting dark corners through the simple act of stepping outside of noticing what is already there for the taking.
Q: What was the first flower you ever dried and was there a moment when you knew you were hooked?
I really stumbled across dried flowers in an organic and iterative way. It started with a bouquet from a friend that was left to dry in the vase, sparking my interest and encouraging me to create a wreath from the stems. From there I invested in dried flowers to create with, buying them online from a UK based supplier. For some reason however, despite me being an avid gardener all my life it took me a good year or two before I delved into growing flowers to dry. And since then I just keep experimenting, building my knowledge, my loves and preferences. I’m not sure I will ever stop learning on this subject.
Strawflowers are a great choice for anyone new to growing their own flowers to dry – which variety is your own particular favourite?
Strawflowers are one of my absolute favourite flowers to grow and dry and I always recommend anyone new to growing flowers to start with these. They are relatively easy to start from seed (always use fresh seed and sow in a greenhouse or window sill, planting out when all danger of frost has passed and they are of a good size). And they are so easy to dry. The petals themselves are papery to touch as soon as they appear and retain their colour and shape even when dried – giving you years and years of happiness.
My current favourites are: silvery pink, salmon rose, apricot peach and scarlet. Chiltern seeds are a very reliable source for seeds.
Can you single out one or two ‘show stopper’ dried flowers?
It’s hard to single out one because the way I use dried flowers varies hugely depending on the design I am working on. That being said, I encourage people to consider grasses, seedheads and other textural fillers to support the flowers. These stems are the ones that can set a design apart and help to keep them intrinsically linked to the natural world.
What would be your essential seed/plant shopping list for anyone starting out on a dried flower growing journey?
You really don’t need a lot to get started and I always recommend starting slowly and trialling flowers to see which ones work for you. Take a stroll around your garden and notice the plants that already exist there. Are there ones that could already be used for drying? Look beyond the borders and towards the wildflowers and hedges.
If you want to start sowing seeds then select a peat free compost from a reputable source, a few packets of seeds from your favourite supplier, a small propagator and a sunny windowsill or greenhouse if you’re lucky enough to have one!
Can you describe a perfect day in your garden and what makes it so joyful for you?
This would be waking up early, before the family have risen and stepping outside on a late summer morning to soak in all the flowers that I’ve taken the year to grow. Late summer and early Autumn are the best time in my garden for picking flowers to dry. It is also the time in the year when there are fewer jobs to be done, so life can be that little bit more relaxing than in Spring and late Autumn. I adore strolling the garden and cutting my stems to be hung out to dry in the studio later in the day.
How would you describe your design style?
As with all styles, mine has taken a while to evolve and I have no doubt will continue to develop as I grow and learn more. I would describe it as ethereal, magical and nature led. Wild and free with a focus on loose, flowing displays.
What do you predict will be the upcoming most popular dried flower varieties?
I hope that the move towards British grown flowers will continue to have an influence on the dried flower trend, however it worries me greatly that more and more people are choosing dyed and bleached dried flower products. These come with a huge impact on the environment and turn what should be a stunning natural offering into a highly chemical ridden manmade product. There needs to be clearer labelling on these items so people know what they are buying. In my book I urge the reader to investigate the origins of the flowers that they are buying as knowledge is power.
I was interested to read your thoughts on escaping the imperative of a freshly mown lawn – can you share one or two of your own favourite ways to increase the wildflower areas of our gardens?
Like many of us I was a lover of a neatly mowed lawn before we moved to Devon. With our small town garden where we used to live, it was hard to do anything but mow it regularly so the boys had space to play. However, here in Devon we have an acre of land and when we moved in, the first thing we decided to do was not to mow the lawn. Mainly to see what would come up but also because it is a huge undertaking mowing the lawn as regularly as would be needed. We were delighted by the appearance of many wildflowers such as ragged robin, clover, birds foot trefoil and much more alongside the tufty grasses. I use some of these in my work and they also feed my chickens!
So my first tip would be to simply stop mowing, see what comes up and go from there.
If you are lucky to have a good seed base (most gardens will) the flowers will appear over time. The next thing to do is to introduce yellow rattle as this is a plant that outcompetes grasses and allows other flowers to flourish. Its a slow game building a wildflower lawn but so beneficial when you can watch butterflies and nectar loving insects flitting from plant to plant.
How to win a signed copy of the book and a set of notelets
We have three signed copies of Flowers Forever to be won, along with a set of notelets for each winner. So why not enter now? All you have to do is share your own thoughts on dried flowers and where you hope this book might take you. Be as creative as you like!
Post your entry as a comment at the foot of this blog post.
You won’t see your entry appear immediately when you add it to a comment box. But it will come through to our admin area once you click the ‘post comment’ button. Once we’ve logged your entry we’ll publish it.
Please note that this competition is only open to residents of the UK.
Good luck and hope you enjoy! We’ll be choosing the winner at the end of August so why not enter now?
Flowers Forever is published by Hardie Grant (ISBN 9781784884345) and is available to buy online from:
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Photography: Laura Edwards
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