As Hydrangea flowers come to the end of their season, they take on a wonderful mix of colours, from apple green to murky purple and everything in between. I believe these colours can be preserved by using glycerin in the vase water and then drying the flower after a time but I would need an expert to tell me the exact method to do this.
The great British florist Constance Spry who died in 1960 aged 73 was probably the first to discover the beauty of faded Hydrangea blooms. The phrase 'to do a Constance Spry' which still gets used today, was coined by Beverley Nichols in the foreword to Spry's book How to do the Flowers from 1953. Spry was a woman who did everything with great panache and style and bought much colour and glamour to post-war Britain. Nichols goes on to say ...'Of all her innovations I think the use of the withered Hydrangea is perhaps the most significant; today it is almost a decorative commonplace; in the days of our grandparents it would not have been tolerated for a moment. Bells would have peeled, housemaids would have scurried and the lovely, fragile, crinkly blossoms would have been pushed into the dustbin.'
'To do a Constance Spry means standing before a bed of Hydrangeas, when summer has fled and seeing beauty in their pallid, parchment blooms'