It was time to clean my dried flower arrangements. The last time I cleaned the one in the bathroom was... never. Not that they didn't really need any cleaning, but because it's a big arrangement with assorted flowers and reeds that it would really require a considerable block of time to clean them.
You wish you could just throw them in a bucket of sudsy water, shwish them around, pull them out, and shake them dry. But you can't. You have to hold each stalk and gently brush off the dust and dirt. You could lose a dried flower or break a twig here and there, but it's part of the cleaning process.
Most of my arrangements are eucalyptus -- I like them for their resiliency. The fragrance is distinct, although I've encountered some that get nasty after a while, smelling like old socks -- I think some driers mess with additive fragrances. But, dried eucalyptus really last forever.
So, I picked up my trusty soft-bristled paintbrush, took a seat out in the patio, dumped all the preserved eucalyptus branches, dried wheat stalks, mini-bamboos, twisted cane sticks, and dehydrated flowers on the round table, and went to work.
It took me about an hour to clean three floral arrangements. I re-arranged only enough for one vase. The rest, I laid out in an oversized shirt box to store for future use. I could've thrown them away... they're dead anyway. But I'm a certified card-carrying packrat, er, conservationist-recycler, who believes that every item in this world could potentially be a component of a revolutionary art piece. Okay, I'm a packrat. But look, these preserved eucalyptus leaves still look good after... so many years!
Eucalyptus leaves are particularly prone to dust... they attract dust... or more like dust clings to them for dear life. That's because the leaves and stems are naturally oily. Eucalyptus is preserved by letting them absorb water spiked with glycerin, an ingredient in the soap-making process. Effectively, the branches are "dry" but remain oily. Therefore, it requires a little patience to clean these branches because you have to brush both sides of each leaf to really do a good job. Blowing or "swiffer"-ing won't do. Well, consider it a zen experience -- not unlike pruning and shaping bonsai. Or, just like you polish your silver, you brush your dried eucalyptus.
Here are some photos I took during my zen moments: