Zeranthemum -- commonly known as immortelle -- is not the only flower suitable for drying. There are nearly one hundred common and not so very common flowers that can be used for this most ancient of gathering practices. If you haven't tried drying some of your summer flowers, it's about time. Don't forget to leave room on your drying rack for the herbs and spices.
It's a good idea to plan ahead in the early spring for flowers that will be especially grown for drying. Once they're blooming, keep a close watch on your garden, searching for the perfect dry, sunny day.
Upon that day, find the best flowers that have just now become perfectly themselves -- not too old, and not too long opened. Let the morning dew, if any, dry away before the cutting. Tell the flowers how beautiful they are. (Just kidding, but, if you really want to there's no harm done.) For long stemmed flowers, such as Yarrow and Zinnia, cut the stems long. You can always cut them down to size later, when arranging.
Cut and gather the flowers in small bunches. If you have the time and are taking your time, snip off the leaves right at the time you cut each flower. Gently bundle them up. Tie the bunch together with twine or rubber bands. Be careful not to wind the rubber band around too tightly. Hang the bunches upside down somewhere in the dark, somewhere dry and well-ventilated.
Depending upon the type of flower, they'll take a week to a month to dry. You'll find that flowers dry pretty well around here. There's a whole world that comes with drying flowers. You should check into it.
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The I Ching is an oracle that one consults through ritual in a tradition that is well over 6000 years old. The book itself is the oldest text in the world. It is a collection of short, somewhat cryptic, archetypal reasonings offered as spiritual or philosophical advice. These sayings are accompanied by commentaries that date back to ancient philosophers, such as Confucius and other contemporaries.
The oldest ritual for consulting this ancient oracle involved the geometric burning and interpretive reading of tortoise shells. That technique gave way to the metaphorical, but mathematical reading of a bundle of dried Yarrow stalks. There is also a more modern three coin toss that has a practical appeal, but consulting by way of fifty Yarrow stalks continues to be the preferred method for many people.
The I Ching is an incredibly interesting piece of literature, but many believe it to be much, much more. Some would have it that the ritual surrounding the work actually -- or phenomenologically -- energizes the connection between the text and those consulting the text. An open mind and sincere heart help formulate the right questions. If the convergence takes place, some type of meaningful connection with the wider world gets exposed and, perhaps, through some type of integrated semi- or ultra-conscious human intention, cajoled into possibilities and outcomes to our liking.
The ritual is based, in part, upon the belief that good decisions are made when there's some understanding -- more or less -- of the connections we have with the world and everything and everyone around us. Usually the insight has all too much to do with localized, everyday decision making, about simply and peacefully clearing our minds and thus better, more intelligently making our way in a fragile, organic and somewhat cosmically mute world.
So, it's interesting that the medium for this ancient, highly acclaimed ritual is a bundle of dried Yarrow stalks. Dried flowers. Who would have thought that Yarrow would play such an important part in cultural history. What's more: it's very easy to grow and it's fun to collect the stalks for drying. Come holiday time cut 50 sticks to just the right handling length, fashion a nice storage pouch out of felt or some other natural fiber, include a copy of the I Ching (with "throwing" instructions) for a gift that will have all your best friends thinking about life, the cosmos, and the importance of Yarrow.
Yarrow is indigenous to our region. In fact, people have been gathering Yarrow for centuries around here. Come in and see the varieties we carry. Let Yarrow help you make deeper connections with your local world.