All gardeners know that a hat is an essential piece of equipment for working outdoors, but who says that it must look like the ordinary garden variety? Why not transform it into a whimsical fashion statement that celebrates the outdoors as it protects you from the sun and wind? In no time at all, you can transform your favorite gardening hat into a wonderful signature of spring with dried herbal leaves and flowers from the garden that will have herbal fragrances wafting around you every time you turn your head!
Creating a fragrant garden hat from dried herbs is simple. After cutting fresh herbs from the garden, rubber-band them into small, 5-inch-long bundles. Hang them to dry in a warm, well-ventilated area for one to three weeks, depending on your climate. (As the herbs dry and shrink, the rubber bands will prevent them from falling out of the bundles.) When the herbs are completely dry, wire them onto a thin rope or cord, then tie this herbal garland around your hat to create a cheerful display. Including insect-repelling herbs such as basil and tansy in your garland may even help keep annoying critters at bay.
The herb garden offers unlimited possibilities for garland material. Choose herbs with varied foliage textures such as bay, lamb’s-ears, oregano, sage, artemisias, santolina, and thyme. Add color and scent with flowers such as calendula, catnip, feverfew, lavender, mint, and yarrow, accented, if you like, with a few bright blossoms of globe amaranth, hydrangea, larkspur, nigella, sunflower, or rose.
A hat of dried herbs should last for at least one gardening season; you can be tucking away bundles of this summer’s herbs for next year’s garland. Fresh herbs also can be used to adorn a hat for a special occasion. Choose herbs that hold up well out of water, such as bay, lavender, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and yarrow. Enjoy the heady aroma while you can: a fresh garland probably won’t last more than a few days before it loses its sprightly beauty.
Assorted herbs and flowers
Straw gardening hat
About 5 feet of thin rope or cord
#26 florist wire on a spool or paddle
Collect herbs and flowers from the garden and dry them in bundles as described above, or purchase dried plant material at a craft store or herb shop.
To determine the length of rope you need, wrap it around the crown of your hat; allow at least 11/2 feet extra on each end for tying a bow later (it’s better to have it too long than too short). With the black marker, mark the rope at the point where the two ends cross. You will create your herb garland within these two marks.
Lay your rope flat on a table with one end pointing toward you and the other pointing away from you. Beginning at the mark farthest away from you, lay a bundle of herbs onto the rope with the stems pointing toward you. Wrap florist wire around the rope and stems of the bundle several times until the bundle is attached securely. Do not cut the wire.
Place a second bundle on top of the stems of the first bundle. Wrap the wire securely around the stems of this bundle as you did the first one. Continue working toward yourself, adding bundles one at a time, wrapping the wire to hold them in place, and alternating various green herbs with occasional bundles of flowers. Stop when you reach the second black mark, letting the stems of the last bundle hang over the mark. Wrap the finished herbal garland around the crown of your hat, tuck the stems of the last bundle under the top of the beginning bundle, and tie a bow or knot with the undecorated ends of the rope. You may want to fray the ends for added effect.
Theresa Loe has worn out a garden hat or two in her herb garden in Southern California. She is an aerospace engineer, lecturer, and author of The Herbal Home Companion (1996), published by Kensington Publishing.