Garden Team member Anna Mariscal shows us how to make a Christmas wreath
What you need
Frame: Young (such as this year’s growth) hazel, willow, or dogwood whips will be flexible and therefore great for forming a frame; you will need three or four. Alternatively, you can purchase a metal frame from a craft shop.
Foliage: The opportunities here are endless and each garden will provide unique features that can be used in a homemade wreath. Rich, dark foliage is great for a traditional winter wreath, including ivy, holly, and/or yew. Alternatively, eucalyptus, stems of bay leaves, or grass seed head tufts can offer festive flare.
Accents: The seed heads of angelica, fennel, oregano, yarrow, and even Thalictrum, as well as rosehips and pinecones, can be used for accent. Fennel seed heads, in particular, resemble the delicate patterns of snowflakes. (Not only can allowing a garden’s seed heads to mature be helpful in wreath making, but also provides winter food for wildlife, while adding interest to the garden over the winter months). Seed heads can be spray painted seasonal colours and lights and ribbons can be added. Also, consider the scent of the wreath material. The combinations of materials are truly endless; just make sure you like it!
Kit: Floral Wire, Wire Cutters, Secateurs, Pliers
Base Foliage: Yew (collected from seasonal hedge cuttings).
Colour & Texture Layers: Holly with berries (collected from Parham Garden’s Pleasure Grounds), Miscanthus sinensis “Rotsilber” grass seed head tufts (collected from Entrance Border).
Build the frame
- Harvest straight whips from hazel. (Generally, whips from the centre of the hazel will be straighter). Begin shaping as soon as possible as whips will be greener and therefore easier to bend and manipulate. (They can be soaked in water to increase flexibility; I also will curve the whips and place in the bottom of a garden trug to help them hold shape if I can’t make the wreath right away.)
- Gently bend the whips to shape, you can hear as the structure of the wood stretches, careful to not break.
- Start by shaping one whip into a circle, use a second whip to intertwine, use the third whip to help lock the shape into place.
- Don’t be worried if it is not a perfect circle, the foliage will help to smooth out the shape. You can also use floral wire to help hold the shape.
- A hook for hanging can be added at this time, using floral wire to secure it to the frame.
Create the base layer
- Clump the yew into small bunches and attach with floral wire to the hazel frame. This is done by wrapping the wire around each yew bunch laid against the frame, meeting and twisting the wire ends together at the back of the frame. Be mindful of where you place the wire against the yew, ensuring the tips of the foliage will stay fluffy, but also secure along the frame.
- Cut excess stems and wire after each bunch is attached.
- Continue around the frame, step layering yew bunches with the foliage tips pointing in the same direction, when arriving at the last bunch tuck the ends and attach under the first bunch.
Add colour and texture
- Thread within the yew individual holly and grass tufts alternately, attaching three to four at a time with floral wire under the yew twigs to ensure coverage. This can be adjusted to the number of stems available, and as such the stems can be threaded in as sparsely or as thick as desired. Additionally, the holly and grass tufts don’t have to be alternated; they can be kept in distinct lines. Go with whatever you like and what you want to see on your front door!
- Again, work your way around the wreath with foliage tips facing the same direction, and, again, tuck the last stems behind the first stems.
Fine tune and decorate
- Prune out any stems that stick out or distort the shape.
- Add a traditional bow, if desired.
- Hang on the door and enjoy!