It’s easy to buy a wreath. Get a basic balsam wreath, throw a ribbon on it and you’re golden, right? But are you proud? If you make your own wreath instead, I guarantee you will glow with I-made-that! satisfaction every time you open your front door. And it’s such the perfect thing for any of us gardeners who might have early onset cabin fever and need all the green-stuff creative outlets we can get.
Step one: Look around and see if you or any of your neighbors has beautiful evergreens in need of a trim. Always, always, always ask permission first before pruning! (I know that’s obvious to most of you – unfortunately there is someone in our neighborhood who does not remember to ask permission…)
2. Assemble your materials. Along with a variety of greens you’ll need a frame and 22 gauge wire (available at floral, crafts suppy stores and garden centers), pruners and a wisp (at least) of holiday spirit.
Attach the wire to the frame so that if you tug on the wire it won’t unravel. Cut and put together a bundle of mixed greens – hint: using a backbone of white pine or balsam in each bundle will make a fairly sturdy, non-floppy wreath. Another hint: Make your first bundle extra long so that your last bundle can tuck underneath without sticks showing. Attach the bundle by winding the wire around the frame a time or two. Layer all subsequent bundles on the stick ends of the previous. Hint #3: If you want a fat wreath, closely overlap the bundles; to make a skinny wreath (ie, for inbetween door and stormdoor), make longish bundles and lay them farther apart. Keep checking as you go for symmetry. It’s easy to get stalled in one spot piling bundle after bundle in a skyscraper building sort of way, so watch out for that! Also (and this is what happens to me) don’t lose steam towards the end putting on thinner and thinner bundles because you’re “ready to be done now!” When you’ve made it all the way around, hold it up for a look because chances are you’ll need one or two more bundles (it’s inevitable). When you’re truly done, tie off the wire by passing the spool through a sewing loop and leaving a long strand of wire, snip it using wire cutters or the notch in your pruners (never cut with the blade!) and use that length of wire to (proudly!) hang up your wreath.
To make a bow, pinch a small loop of ribbon between your thumb and forefinger. Working back and forth, make loops pinched in the middle until you have an even number on both sides of the middle mini loop. Cut the ribbon leaving a tail; cut another tail piece to attach and wrap a wire through to grab the wad between your fingers. Hint: Wired ribbon is the most forgiving.
I made this wreath from workshop leftovers of white pine tips, Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Filifera Aurea’, C. pisifera ‘Squarrosa’, C. pisifera ‘Plumosa’, C. obtusa (Hinoki Cypress), Thujopsis dolobrata ‘Variegata’, Ilex aquifolium (English Holly), Buxus sempervirens ‘Rotundifolia’, and Rosa multiflora.
Everyone who participated in Saturday’s workshop went home with a wreath to be proud of and just like snowflakes, no two were at all alike! Do you make your own wreaths or any other holiday decorations? (Aren’t you proud?)