Herbal Corsages
by Sylvia Forbes - posted 08/14/12

Add a little elegance to your day by creating these fragrant, fresh and fun corsages straight from your garden.

Each year, during the Autumn Ambiance Festival at Lauritzen Gardens, the Omaha Herb Society makes herbal corsages for each of the thousands of people who stop to view the herb garden. In fall, with most people wearing sweaters and coats, it's easy to pin on the corsages. It's an unexpected treat for all the plant-loving visitors to receive a pretty herbal corsage or boutonniere to wear to celebrate the day.

To keep up with the demand, they set up a table piled high with plant material, all cut from the herb garden. Four or more volunteers staff the table throughout the day, making hundreds of corsages, no two alike.

Whether making them for festivals, weddings, reunions, parties or just for personal pleasure, herbal corsages are both easy and quick to create. They can be made from either fresh or dried materials, making it possible to collect materials any time of year to use.


Plant Materials

A typical herbal corsage includes four to six sprigs of material, each which is 3 to 4 inches in length. In general, a heavier foundation-type plant is used in back, as the backdrop for the more delicate or colorful plant materials that are placed in front. Foundation plants might include yews, boxwood, junipers, ferns, iris leaves or other larger leaves such as hosta leaves. Plant materials in the front might include delicate rose buds, black-eyed Susans, calendula, mint flowers or many others. Long grass plumes or the long thin leaves of chives can add extra spikes of interest. If using delicate stems that tend to droop, it is possible to cut a length of thin florist wire, place it next to the delicate stem, and wrap florist tape around both to reinforce the stem.

Easy, Peasy

Pinch the stems of the materials together into a small bouquet. To hold the miniature bouquet together, wrap the stem ends with green florist tape. To finish, use ¼-inch satin ribbon to tie a little bow in a matching color at the bottom of the bouquet. The finished herbal corsage or boutonniere can be pinned on using either a straight pin or a safety pin. You can pin the corsage on upright, or upside down for a different look. Pinning upside down works well if using vines, long spikes or large flowers.

Be Bold

Experiment! Don't think that if you choose a yellow flower, you can only have yellow accents. Try multiple colors together, tall and short, variegated and plain, fuzzy and delicate, grayish foliage with dark green. Sometimes the best corsage is the one you didn't plan, but when you just picked up a few sprigs nearest to you.

Drying Flowers

Some people prefer to dry the plant materials themselves. While many seed pods can be collected in the fall, already dried by nature, most flowers wither away. One easy way to dry flowers is to gather them in a bunch. Tie a piece of twine around the bunch, then hang them upside-down to dry, in a warm, dry location that is out of the sun, such as an attic, garage or barn. The flowers will dry, and most colors remain, but they will not look exactly the same as they did while living.

However, flowers can also be dried so that the flower looks exactly like it did while in bloom. Many craft stores sell silica gel, a type of sand that is used for drying. A layer of sand is poured into a tall container, then the flower is set on top of the sand. Then the sand is slowly and delicately poured over the rest of the flower, all the while making sure to keep the blossom's original shape. Once the flower is completely covered, then the container is set aside for two or more days, to allow the flower to dry. Later, the sand is carefully poured off, and the original flower is now dry, yet still in its natural shape. This works on most flowers, but not for thicker flowers such as succulents.

A Little Caution

When collecting materials for your corsages, make sure not to collect plants that might cause the wearer to be uncomfortable. Stay away from collecting poison ivy, ragweed, rue, stinging nettle, prickly pear, cockleburs and any other “sticky,” “itchy” or known allergy plants. Plants with lots of sap, like milkweed, are also a problem, because the stem ends may drip. Strip thorns off roses before wrapping the stem, so the wearer doesn't get stuck accidentally.

Fragrance, Too

One of the bonuses of creating herbal corsages is the added fragrance given off by many plants. People wearing corsages made with lavender, peppermint, rosemary, oregano, roses and many other herbs will get an occasional pleasant whiff of herbal aromas as they walk around.

Try your hand at creating an herbal corsage. You, and whoever you give the corsage to, will both be pleasantly surprised at the fun of this inexpensive, yet unique gift.

Materials needed

Plant materials – bought or collected from the garden, yard or fields
Floral tape
Floral wire
Narrow satin ribbon

(Both floral tape and floral wire are available at most craft stores. However, a florist might be willing to sell a little bit, since they use it on a daily basis.)

 

Directions

1. Gather a variety of fresh or dried materials.

2. Use pruners or kitchen scissors, snip dried or fresh materials into 3- to 4-inch long pieces.

3. Use four to six herbal snips per corsage.

4. Pinch stems together and wrap stem end of bunch with floral tape. Wrap around the stems several times to make it secure, so that pieces won't fall out later.

5. Tie a little colored ribbon around the wrapped stem, if desired.

6. Pin on clothing with straight pin or safety pin. Make sure to have a supply of pins available.

 

A Few Ideas for Materials


 

Dried Pods
Poppy seed pods
Black-eyed Susan seed heads
Blackberry lily seed pods
Penstemon seed heads

Flowers
Basil – flowering stems and seed stalks
Mints – in flower
Sweet Annie
Calendula
Roses, especially buds, but also open flowers and hips
Lavender
Pineapple sage
Russian sage flowering stems
Straw flowers
Grass heads
Hydrangea

Unusual leaves
Sage – grayish green
Rosemary – scented, waxy
Mountain mint - scented
Horehound - fuzzy
Pineapple mint - variegated
Chives – spiky, adds length
Curly parsley
Kale - bumpy

Foundation plants
Yews
Boxwood
Juniper branches with or without berries
Iris leaves    

 

Photos courtesy of Sylvia Forbes.    


 

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