From a workshop in Corfe Castle, the company Dorset Dried Flowers is branching out, boosted by scooping the award for best eco business at the Purbeck Business Awards 2023.
With a passion for flowers, Catherine Nix, who lives nearby at Norden, set up her business in 2016 when she needed to earn some money for Christmas. It’s now established, providing dried flower arrangements, both large and small, workshops and floral kits available to buy online from her website.
A huge varity of flowers to choose from, dispelling the myth that dried flowers are dull
Building a business around flowers
When she first started out, Catherine set up her company calling it My Scented Home, knowing that she wanted to build a business around flowers. At the time she created more crafty items like petals in resin but soon it came to be all about dried flowers.
“I really enjoyed working with dried flowers and just started with some wheat. I then got a few more bits and played around with them. It all naturally evolved and from those early days I’m now creating large chandelier displays and floral archways for weddings and other events.
“It’s a bit of a cliche to say that it was ‘just meant to be’, but it’s true!”
Catherine Nix in her studio workshop at Sandy Hill Arts making a decoration commisioned for a wedding
Surge of online interest in dried flowers during lockdown
In 2019, Catherine, a mother of four, was finding that her home was becoming overrun with her flowers so took the plunge and moved her business to a studio at Sandy Hill Arts centre, best known for the Boiler House Gallery, located next to Corfe Castle station.
This was very well timed, as suddenly, with the start of the Covid pandemic, fresh flowers were hard to buy causing a huge surge of online interest in dried flowers that were still available.
A distinctly different door wreath
Requests for Zoom wreath making workshops
“I found that I was getting lots of orders via my website for dried flower arrangements, as people looked for ideas for gifts that could be delivered by post.
“There were also requests for Zoom wreath making workshops from big corporate businesses as they tried to find ways of keeping up staff morale. I’d send out the kits of materials to the employees in advance and then show them how to create an arrangement on a group Zoom. Some of the men were really good – I think it actually got a little competitive!
“Then there was a phone call from the Daily Mail who asked whether I did shower bouquets. I hadn’t a clue what they were but a quick Google and realised that they were arrangements of dried fragranced flowers and leaves that you hang up in your shower, with the scent being released by the steam. So of course I said yes.
“Following the newspaper article I even ended up doing a live interview for Australian TV.”
While the advantages of dried flowers over fresh flowers were sharply illustrated during lockdown, there’s also benefits now.
Catherine says that they are very cost effective for hotels and businesses, as a display can last for months not weeks. Also for weddings, there’s no last minute rush to get the flowers done as they can be created well in advance.
From autumn to summer a door wreath is not just for Christmas!
“Everything I use is as natural as possible”
“I like very classic designs with natural colours. A few of the flowers I use are dyed but very subtly and usually only to fit in with colour schemes. The more natural the better.
“Everything I use is as natural as possible. I don’t use plastic florist foam, preferring to create a frame with twigs. Birch twigs make a great base for a wreath and you can often find them on the ground having blown down from a tree.
“Oh and I’d like to say that if anyone thinks of dried flowers and thinks of bowls of old shrivelled potpourri from their childhood, then think again! All that’s needed is a blow from a hairdryer on a medium setting and modern dried flower arrangements can be easily revived.”
The materials are all provided at a workshop…
…and two hours later even a novice can create something to admire!
“People are increasingly looking for experiences”
Rebranded as Dorset Dried Flowers for 2023, Catherine is looking to do more workshops now that everyone can get together again. Reasonably priced, there’s a number of spaces available on her website to make dried flower wreaths but she’s happy to arrange other dates to fit in with a celebration or holiday visits.
“My workshops attract like minded people, so I personally really enjoy them. I’m genuinely interested in the people I meet and I love it when people come along and make new friends – I feel my work is done!
“I’d like to do more as I think there is a demand, as people are increasingly looking for experiences and things to do.”
Catherine’s dried flower arrangement over the bar at The Fox Inn in Corfe Castle is quite a talking point
“More flowers – less helium balloons!”
However Catherine’s ambitions don’t stop with growing the workshop side of her business. She really enjoys the challenge of making large floral arrangements with big impact. One commission locally has been to decorate the whole of the bar area of the Fox Inn in Corfe Castle. She added:
“My big vision is to be known nationally for large scale dried flower arrangements – big installations! There’s no one who really does this in the UK. The flower chandeliers are great for big event styling, making an impressive impact. More flowers – less helium balloons!”
All of this is alongside the day to day business of providing flowers as gifts, making up kits and running workshops. Oh and another matter is the ‘small’ task of styling all the flowers for her own wedding in September this year!
Catherine receiving her Purbeck Business award for best eco business from the Mayor of Wareham Malcolm Russell
- Buying dried flower arrangements including shower bouquets, purchasing a kit or booking on a workshop can all be done via the Dorset Dried Flower website