A New Take on the Southern Bouquet

Nashville’s Saint Maide hand-dries florals to dramatic effect

Photo: Emily Dorio

How’s this for a clever gift idea for Valentine’s Day: a posy of ethereal dried white strawflowers, Avena (oats), and Stipa (grasses) in lieu of conventional grocery store red roses. The “Bonjour” bouquet, hand-dried by the Nashville floral designer Tennessee Jane of Saint Maide, will last far longer, too.

Like paper flowers, dried flowers are having a moment—in part because they offer a longer-lasting option to fresh florals, but also because they are as beautiful as their living counterparts and require zero maintenance. All of this is a win for Jane, who grew up in Tennessee with roots all over the Deep South (family and friends call her Tenny for short). “At the beginning of last year, I got laid off, moved to Nashville from San Francisco, and quarantine started,” Jane says. “The idea for Saint Maide struck in the middle of the night.” In October 2020, she officially launched her business online, offering almost twenty bouquet designs, as well as custom arrangements, ready to ship.

All of her creations—from the vivid “Perpetua,” with spiral eucalyptus and red strawflowers, to the romantic “Therese,” with Ammobium and wild sage—are dried without the use of preservatives. “My house is filled with flowers in different stages of drying,” she says with a laugh. “I’ve even been known to use my oven when the process isn’t happening fast enough.” This spring she’ll add wedding bouquets to her offerings, as well as virtual classes and tutorial videos for those new to the world of forever flowers. Her best advice to newbies is always this: “Start with one element and fill a vase with it. Dried flowers have so much natural texture you don’t have to do much to make a statement.”

photo: Emily Dorio