News from the Farm | February 19, 2024

“My mom and I speak to each other through the flowers we grow. The joys and triumphs of our flower fields and bouquets are etched into the smile lines around our eyes and each late frost that hit our spring flowers or gophers that found our tulips has added a wrinkle to our furrowed brows. We gawk over seed catalogs together, wondering whether new flower varieties would fare well in our growing zone. We harvest together early in the morning. We dream the same dreams of snapdragon fields, mixed bouquets and fragrant wreaths.”

-An excerpt from my new book Designing with Dried Flowers 

My childhood was spent in sync with seasonal flowers. I slept in harvest boxes as my mom picked calendula for orders, I rode alongside buckets of sweet peas in hand pulled carts headed back to the packing shed, and I created elaborate fairy mansions in the many roses, and irises under the shade of the fig tree in my mother’s garden. I grew up at Full Belly Farm, the youngest child of Dru Rivers and Paul Muller, and now a second generation farmer at Full Belly Farm. Sometimes it feels like I had no choice, not in moving back to the farm – that I did freely and without any pressure from family – but in choosing flowers as my life work and passion. It was ingrained in me, the flowers whispering to me through osmosis, calling my name “Hannah Rose” over and over again until I felt ready to listen in my early 20’s. I started designing flower arrangements for weddings and events ten years ago (using Full Belly Farm flowers, naturally) and worked alongside the Full Belly flower crew harvesting flowers, packing out orders and readying flowers for market and CSA. 

There is a building that is snuggled between my parents house and the packing shed that has lovingly become known as the Wreath Room. Growing up, this old barn always drew me in. The space where we hang dry flowers has always been a safe haven from the bustle of the farm, and a constant source of inspiration and creativity. If any of you have ever visited the Wreath Room at the Hoes Down or on-farm events, you have seen the cathedral of hanging flowers, and witnessed the 50 or so varieties transforming from fresh to forever flowers.  What started as a hobby of my mother’s has turned into a profitable part of Full Belly that helps keep the six floral crew members employed year-round and keeps local flowers available even when fresh flowers are not in season. We now dry flowers to use for dried floral arrangements in our “off season” from October to February, making mixed bouquets, wreaths and floral designs to sell wholesale and direct to customers. 

Over the past ten years in conversations with friends, customers and wreath class attendees about the art of drying and designing with flowers, I realized how many people wanted to learn how to do in their own home. I set out to write a book that would guide readers in growing, harvesting, hang-drying and designing with flowers. The process started over two years ago with a book proposal accepted by Clarkson Potter, a manuscript written, over 3,000 photos taken by the incredible Molly Decoudreaux, and over 10,000 stems of flowers dried in the Wreath Room. But really, this story began stirring inside of me around the same time the flowers began whispering my name. 

The book starts with an introduction and history of Full Belly Farm and includes breathtaking photos of the farm and flower fields. I discuss the basic tools that readers will need to replicate our drying system at home before breaking down the flowers we grow and dry by season. This seasonal glossary is my favorite part of the book. There are beautiful openers for each season that show how the Wreath Room changes throughout the year. Molly was able to capture each flower in incredible detail, and the photos are accompanied by helpful hints on how to dry or harvest each flower. Finally, the third section gets into the designs that readers can create with flowers once they are dried. I wanted to start small, with simple projects readers can incorporate into their everyday life, before demonstrating step-by-step how the artists at Full Belly Farm make wreaths. Finally, I explore more grand designs, perfect for weddings and celebrations. With over 32 unique designs in the book, I know there will be something for everyone.

I am proud to announce that my book Designing with Dried Flowers is now available for preorder. At this point in the launch, every book sale counts! A preorder is an encouraging sign to the publisher that this book will be a success and is the only indication they have of how many books they should print. I hope you will consider buying a book for yourself, your family, your friends and every floral lover in your life. You can see a full list of where this book can be preordered here and consider joining my floral mailing list for more exciting updates. The book will be released on June 4th, 2024 and will be available to purchase on the Full Belly Farm website on that day. I am so excited to share my passion for dried flowers and this farm with the world.  

Hannah Muller

Photo credit: Molly Decoudreaux, except for the childhood photos