The Everlasting Flower
These were highly popular plants for the Victorian garden, mainly because they could be harvested for winter colour indoors.
They were relatively easily cultivated, although some care did have to be taken. The everlasting flower (Helichrysum monstrosum) needed a dry sunny corner. In order to give them as long a flowering season as possible, however (in order to get the fullest head of flowers), the seed needed to be sown early in spring and the young plants forwarded under glass. Better still, the plants could be seeded in August and September, and wintered over in a frame or a pit, when they could be planted out in April or May, and a fine crop of sun-ripened flowers expected.
They preferred dry, stony soil above all else – a rich moist soil combined with a shady position spelled death for them.
The favourite species for gardens were H. brachyrhynchum, a dwarf plant with yellow flowers; H. bracteatum, a taller plant with flowers of yellow and white; and Helichrysum monstrosum, of which there were about a dozen varieties with a considerable range of colour.
When drying, it was necessary to cut the flowers with a pair of scissors with a convenient length of stem, before the flowers had fully expanded. Then they should be hung in small bundles, head downwards in a dry closet (or, more likely, the potting shed), where they might escape dust and accidental handling.
Bouquets of these flowers were a common sight during the winter in many Victorian homes.
Information and image taken from F. Edward Hulme and Shirley Hibberd, Familiar Garden Flowers (Cassell, Peter, Galpin and Co.: London: c. 1890), 5 vols