Tuesday, August 13, 2013

6 Unexpected Lessons For Life, Learned From Drying Hydrangeas!

Hydrangeas in my garden in June
I am trying to dry hydrangeas. (Bear with me! I promise to move on from flower drying.) 

 I am on my third attempt. 

The first time I thought I knew best and surmised it was just like drying herbs or roses so I hung them up side down, bound together,  on a hook from the ceiling. Not a bad idea I thought.  I imagined they would keep their shape, their color would fade a little but the individual flowers would remain open and beautiful, if a little dulled.

 It was a disaster..........

The hydrangea heads shrunk and the individual flowers curled up , went brown and shrivelled.

attempt no 2
Not to be put off, I thought perhaps I should google a method instead of being a wiseguy and actually find out how do it from experts.

 Armed with some suprising tips such as:- 

  • The best time in the season to pick hydrangeas for drying is  after the mini buds in the middle of each flower have opened, late July-mid August.  

  • Actually placing them right side up in water and letting the heads dry slowly as the water evaporates is the gold standard for drying them. 

I decided to try again.

 Second time around the results are better but not perfect. The flower heads have kept their shape but the flowers look scrawny and curled.

 Thinking third time's a charm I AM TRYING AGAIN. This time I have followed the instructions even more carefully:- (I know you're probably thinking I should have followed the instructions step-by-step in the first place, but I can't follow a recipe to the letter either!) 

  •  Keep away from direct light.
  •  Arrange so that each head has room for air to circulate around it. 

I'll let you know how it goes. They look very pretty in the meantime.

Attempt no 3

So why am I telling you this when you are probably not the least bit interested in drying hydrangeas? 

Well this process got me thinking about how as children we learned many useful skills through experimentation and now as adults how important those skills are for problem solving in many areas of our lives from care giving, to child rearing. From navigating relationships to managing employees and of course for drying hydrangeas....

 So here are 6 hydrangea lessons for work/ home/family life!

1. Sensible trial and error along with informed guidance from wise sources, patience and a sense of humor, is a great combination.

2. It's important (and worth it) not to give up when you don't succeed at first. Building on new-found experience leads (hopefully) to better results and greater confidence.

3. That just because it went wrong the first time (and second?!) doesn't mean there is no other way. But it is worth evaluating how to refine your process.

4.That if you are determined -you will work it out or find a way around the problem. (I can always buy dried hydrangeas, right? )

5. You do not need to do things alone. Find someone who reads instructions carefully the first time and with the same passion/goals/greater experience. There are resources and support out there and you don't have to re-invent the wheel to be successful.

6. You can't dry hydrangeas by hanging them upside down!

For me working with and being around flowers and nature is rewarding, cathartic and uplifting. What works for you?

Hope you're having a great summer and let me know if you've managed to dry flowers successfully or learned some other new skill through perseverance and experimentation.

Here's a great link to an expert in drying hydrangeas   


 Please email me at gilly@bringingbooksofcomfort.org or leave a comment on this post below. I'd love to have your feedback. 
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  1. I absolutely loved this post. First, because I had no idea that people could or needed to dry hydrangeas so I learned something new. But more importantly I loved how you tied this task into our application to life. For me, I think dancing and interacting/talking with people work for me. I love doing them both! Thanks for linking up to the Mommy Monday Blog Hop. I really enjoyed your post. I hope you link up with us in the future. :)

  2. Hi Brittnei,
    Thank you for stopping by and for your feedback. Finding what makes you most happy is wonderful and often does not come from huge life events but small daily moments.It's just remembering to find those often and enjoy them that can be a challenge sometimes. I enjoyed linking up.
    Great to meet you.

  3. I love that you really want to make this work and instead of giving up, you keep on trying! Hope that they turn out beautifully and third time's the charm!



  4. Loved this Gilly. Hopefully third time lucky. And yes, never stop trying.

    1. Thanks Liz. I hope it works . i'm running out of hydrangeas to pick from my garden! I guess there's always next year.

  5. Hey Gilly,

    Hydrangeas don't dry well. Sorry. The beauty has to be enjoyed while they are alive.

    I was a wedding planner for many years, and while they are beautiful, the beautiful bouquet can't be saved after the wedding.

    Thanks so much for linking up with us at the Mommy Monday Blog Hop. I love how you likened drying hydrangeas to kids exploring for themselves. This is the best way. Explore...explore...explore - alas, they can't be dried. :)

    1. Hi Lisa -it was fun to link up.I will try again on Monday.Thank you again for your encouragement.
      I think the beauty of the hydrangeas will be in the quantity of them, rather than the quality! I'll post a picture when they're done! Luckily i'm not relying on them for anything special. it's just been an interesting experience and learning curve.