As promised in last week’s December e-newsletter, instructions follow for making some simple wreaths to decorate your home this festive season. Materials can be found in the garden or down the lanes; it’s surprising what can be found – and they’re so easy to construct, your children can help as well. You will need some simple tools and materials – you probably have them already, but if you don’t, I’ll start with those. Equip yourself with some good quality secateurs (557979), and some twine, malleable florist’s wire and / or raffia (raphia 585084).
Let’s start with the simplest decoration – not actually a wreath at all but twiggy bunches such as these can be made at the last moment. The one on the left is just a collection of trailing variegated ivy and a spray of eucalyptus with seed pods left in situ, which look like berries. Tie together with twine or raffia. The right-hand bunch incorporates prunings from a box bush (Buxus sempervirens) bound to a twiggy circlet of hazel.
Making a circlet is really easy if you use the long strands of Periwinkle (Vinca major) – the large-leaved variegated variety is particularly pretty; and so easy for anyone with arthritic hands who cannot manipulate woody material. Just twist the strands into a circle and bind with raffia; then poke small clippings of other variegated shrubs into any gaps. I used the leaves and seed pods of Rue, but could have added bits of feathery Cotton Lavender (Santolina). The pic shows the back view to demonstrate the construction.
For a bit of colour, use rose hips or bunches of other berries such as Cotoneaster. My ‘twig’ wreath was made from a circlet of lithe willow twigs – as the leaves dried they became quite silvery, though their shrunken state did reveal poor construction! Bind the wreath with wire and tie three twigs across in the form of a triangle; these were pruning’s from our vine and the twisty tendrils added that little bit extra. Then poke the berries into position.
My ‘piece de resistance’ was my herb wreath made for a village flower show one Autumn, and the most tricky to make, though not difficult. It still graces our living room each Christmas (must not be allowed to become wet or damp) – I wrap it in black tissue and store it in a closed box; the colours are still fresh. It needs a very sturdy base, but with sufficient woven willow or hazel this can be accomplished. To decorate, I used bunches of herbs (fresh when inserted) and seedheads abundant in this garden; how I love the opium poppy, nigella (love-in-a-mist) and the teasel so special to goldfinches.
All the above may not look in any way professional, but they are not meant to be; just a joyous celebration using my garden as the source with help when they were created from some of the grandchildren. In other years, after a walk through the woods, I’ve made similar rings and wreaths adding sprigs of larch cones and pine-cones left on a platter by the fire to dry, and then wired individually into place. Evergreens come into their own – laurel and bay, rosemary and yew, of course the ubiquitous holly.
Trawl the Dobies catalogue for ‘seedpod’ flowers, and shrubs or trees that can be sown and planted for more than just garden glory. Oh, and don’t forget that you have until midnight on this immediate Monday, to order for delivery before Christmas.