Friday, 18 December 2020

Classy green Christmas wreath


Happy Christmas everyone. Tomorrow is the Saturday before Christmas and usually I would be running a wreath workshop on this day. Alas, no workshops this year. Instead, I set myself the task of making a foliage wreath only out of the plants and trees growing in our garden. I was not planning to use a bought wire base, nor any moss or straw, nor any bling or dried materials. I wanted a classy, green wreath. It was something of a learning process and I am going to set out the stages I followed so you can do it yourself if you wish. The only item, other than foliage, which is essential is reel wire (see below for details). Beginning with the raw materials:
First of all I cut some branches for making the base - willow or vine is generally recommended, but neither of these grow in our garden, The branches need to be reasonably long (about 2-3 feet) and pliable. I decided to try three different possibilities - cotoneaster, lemon verbena and fuchsia. Then I needed some evergreen foliage - I chose rosemary (gorgeous smell), choisya, ivy, box and a spruce-like shrub we have growing (a bit out of control now!). It needed far more of everything than I thought. You will see the quantities as I go through the process below. I started by stripping the foliage off the branches:
I then bent the branches into a circle, wrapping the branches around each other and roughly weaving them together. The fuchsia was useless - it didn`t have enough bend in it and just snapped. The cotoneaster was by far the best - pliable and robust at the same time. The lemon verbena smelled wonderful, but its branches were a bit brittle. I managed to incorporate some of it, just for the fragrance. I aimed to make (and managed it!) a base of about 12 inches diameter. It needed at least 12 branches - here it is:
The next stage is to make lots of bunches of mixed foliage. Each bunch needs to be about the same length and have roughly the same amount of material in it. I used 2-3 pieces of ivy, 2-3 pieces of rosemary, 2-3 pieces of spruce, one piece of choisya and one short piece of box. I made the bunches so that there were two short pieces on the left side which would be the inner part of the wreath. I wasn`t quite sure how many bunches I would need, so I made about 6 and then decided how many more I would need once I had attached these. In the end I used 12 bunches. I like to tie my bunches together with a soft florist's wire which is wrapped in a kind of raffia. Here is an example of a bunch - you can see the shorter pieces of spruce and box on the inside left:
The next stage is to attach the reel wire to the base. You can buy reel wire from Sarah Raven, Amazon or any florist wholesaler. If you live in Sheffield, I will give you some.
Next you lay your first bunch on the base and wrap the wire around the neck of the bunch and the base 2-3 times, keeping those short stems on the inside of the wreath. You need to pull the wire quite tightly to hold the bunch in place. Like this:
You can now lay the next bunch on top of the first, making sure you cover the binding point with the following bunch. Keep on adding bunches.
Just keep on adding bunches, turning the wreath as it builds. Try to keep the bunches evenly spread.
Once the wreath is complete you could just tie a piece of string or ribbon to it and hang it from a nail on your door. My method is to put a piece of ribbon around the wreath and then attach it to the top of a door. I also decided to add a bow. So....... first I got the hanging ribbon in place and then I attached a strong piece of wire to the bow and pushed it right through to the back of the base. Here is the result:
I am very pleased with this. It cost absolutely nothing! It is made out of organic material which needs to be cut back at this time of year anyway and it is about as ecologically friendly as it could possibly be. I also think it looks great - cool, green, classy, perfect. It also has a lovely fragrance as you walk into our front porch. Why not have a go yourself?