A tradition that goes back to antiquity, yet is sustainable and so 21st century? We’re talking about dried and preserved flowers, the beautiful art form that’s recently exploded in popularity.
We all wish our fresh flowers could last longer - despite all the flower food we put in, they still end up droopy and sad after a few days. Well, dried flowers are the most sustainable alternative! There’s nearly 2 million hits on #driedflowers on Instagram, and they don’t require any maintenance to stay beautiful. They are perfect for allergy sufferers, and look far more classy than fake flowers, which you can still spot a mile off. What's better - you don't need to water them!
Have you discovered our range of exclusive handmade dried flowers? Gift them as a letterbox service, we offer beautiful framed dried flower bouquets to brighten up your home.
Searches for dried flowers increased by 261% last year - their spike in popularity is probably due to their durability and extended life span. Dried flowers are a stunning way to liven up your interiors without harming the planet. Let’s look at their history, their uses, and why they make the perfect sustainable gift.
The History of Dried Flowers
Dried flowers have a prestigious history, stretching back 3,000+ years. Back in Ancient Egypt, dried flowers were used to create cosmetics and perfume. Pressed bay leaves and floral garlands were found in the tomb of Tutankhamen’s mother to help guide her into the afterlife, and they were used for religious ceremonies.
They were used throughout history to create garlands to honour warriors - like modern-day medals, laurel wreaths were given to athletes in Ancient Greece to honour their victories.
In the 16th century, preserved flowers became more than just ceremonial objects or rewards. They became an intricate art form: Oshibana. Oshibana (which translates as to paint a picture with natural elements) was taught to Samurais to teach them how crucial patience and concentration were. The art of drying plants creates nature-inspired designs which denote the Japanese reverence for nature.
Trade between Japan and Victorian England brought Oshibana to England. In Victorian England flowers had their own complex language of symbolism; white rose meant purity, yellow jasmine signified elegance and grace. Called floriography (what a name!) the language of flowers was used to send encoded messages between Victorian lovers. Speaking bouquets called nosegays were carried in miniature vases, and during high society balls, flowers were used to show availability, mood, or romantic intention, at a time when feelings were very much hidden.
The move towards sustainability isn’t going away any time soon. As more and more people wake up to the urgency of the climate crisis, art is moving (thankfully) in the right direction. We need to reconsider how we consume art and other means of culture in a way that won’t harm the planet, but also sustains the artistic economy as it is.
Galleries and artists worldwide are embracing sustainable practices and a sense of social responsibility. Take Gustav Metzger’s ‘Flailing Trees’ installation, a large-scale, site-specific sculpture in Manchester of 21 trees embedded in concrete. By subverting the natural order of plant life, Metzger challenges us to think about the destruction being wreaked on the planet. His installation was in 2009, so some artists have discussed climate issues throughout their careers. In 2022, the Wellcome Collection’s ‘Rooted Beings’ exhibition is a selection of contemporary environmentally conscious work, showing that we’re seeing a new dawn of awareness and action.
Sustainability in art is about using creativity to find new ways of making art that can benefit the environment. It needs to be in harmony with the key principles of sustainability, and we love that dried flowers retain this characteristic, while still being luxurious and beautiful.
Plus, we’re now starting to realise the importance of escaping to nature, and of preserving the natural world. Everyone loves the bright lights and dazzling entertainment of the city, but it’s been proven that taking a walk in the countryside enhances your physical and mental well-being. Escaping to nature is another Japanese tradition: they call it shinrin yoku, the ancient art of relaxation and forest bathing - essentially being calm and quiet among the trees. In Britain, people are beginning to embrace the power of nature - organisations now offer guided walks and tours, and especially during lockdown, people got to know the countryside around them and the benefits it offers.
Dried flowers on their own are lovely - lasting 2-3 years on average, rather than having to be thrown out in less than a week. If you’re looking for something that will last a lifetime (and wow all your guests), why not consider a piece from our Forever Blooms collection?
We’ve harnessed the ephemeral beauty of nature, creating unique sculptures and wall art to bring nature inside. We delicately press the flowers between two layers of glass, preserving their beauty for hundreds of years - preserved flowers are long-lasting, and we use 100% natural flowers. Framed in light wood to enhance their natural beauty, each piece arrives strung, so it’s ready to hang on the wall. We offer 30 day returns, so you don’t need to worry if you change your mind. These stunning glixia flowers come in salmon pink - they’re sure to be the focal point of any room.
We’ve also created our Flower Block series, arranging dried flowers on a sculptural block so they look as though they are floating. A new, innovative way to decorate your home, the Amber Block features vibrant helichrysum and delphinium flowers, arranged in an abstract form. Perfect for a bookcase, a shelf, or as a decorative table centrepiece.
The nude version complements any minimalist interior - the pale wood base enhances the cream and pink colours.These year-round blooms will brighten up any winter's day! Unlike house plants, which require extensive maintenance, a rigorous watering schedule (and sometimes just die for no reason) preserved flowers thrive in any environment.
The Perfect Gift
Whether the happy couple have bedecked their festival-style wedding in vibrant sunflowers, or adorned the church with traditional lilies, flowers are an integral part of any big day. Increasingly, dried flowers are on-trend at weddings and civil partnerships, whether that’s in the bridal bouquet, or combined with fresh flowers in a table setting.
This trend actually came about because of the pandemic - as many weddings were cancelled, florists had to come with innovative new ways of saving their flowers. Now we’re back in full-blown wedding season, dried flowers are a trend that won’t be going away any time soon.
They don’t need to be watered or taken care of before the big event, so they’re the perfect gift for anniversaries or birthdays, as you don’t need to panic about ordering them last minute so they stay fresh.
An ephemeral piece from our Forever Blooms collection makes the perfect wedding present - even that hard-to-please couple will love ready to hang framed florals. We offer a variety of different colours and styles, so you can pick your present based on the couple’s colour scheme, or the decor of their new house.
If you’re got a loved one’s big birthday coming up, why not gift them a selection of pieces from the collection, so they can create a gallery wall? These ‘salon-style’ hangs were popularised by the French elite, and they’re an easy way to give any room real personality.
Of course, gifting is important, but sometimes you just need to to treat yourself. As well as being a beautiful gift, dried flowers are a staple of any home interior. They were even featured for the first time at the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show in 2021! From being considered out of touch just a few years ago, dried flowers are now one of the hottest trends for 2022. We love an easy way to make your home look ultra-chic. Plus, their super-adaptable colour palette and endless variations means they suit almost any interior.
Our Focus on Sustainability
After watching David Attenborough's popular documentary series Blue Planet, favourably the nation grew a new focus on a more ecologically conscious way of living and working. Our focus on sustainability extends into everything we do. When we started Abstract House, we were shocked by the amount of plastic waste and non-recyclable materials in the industry. We knew we wanted to be different. So, we decided to enact real change.
We’re the first (and only) online art retailer to offer zero-plastic, from our products to our packaging. We use 100% recyclable cardboard and materials for packaging, and only high-quality float glass for our picture frames. This compares to the plastic styrene or acrylic used by other art retailers. Our wooden frames are handmade to order, reducing our carbon footprint and ensuring we don’t create more than we need. For our fine art prints (both limited and open edition) we use FSC certified paper of the highest quality - we’re committed to sustainability and quality. Our frames are FSC certified too, using wood from sustainable forests. We’ve pledged to protect our precious planet and will continually look to improve.