Sunday, 6 December 2015

Make a festive wreath from your garden

You don't need to grow holly and ivy to make a festive wreath, all you need are three or four evergreen shrubs in the garden. If you have some berries, hips or crab apples then all the better. Making your own is so much more fun and satisfying than buying a ready-made wreath, and I highly recommend a glass of mulled wine at the same time to get you into the festive spirit.

First, you need to buy a ring of florists foam, the type that absorbs water. Soak it upside down in water for 30 minutes, then stand it up to drain. You want it damp, not dripping. I hang our wreath from a door-knocker so I tie an attractive piece of ribbon to the top, which I will tie to the door-knocker when the wreath is finished.
Then go out foraging in your garden. You want a mixture of leaf shapes, colours and textures and you need to be able to cut them down into small segments to stick them into the foam. This year I collected yew, small and large leaved ivy, pittosporum with variegated leaves, cotoneaster with long oval leaves, noble fir and spotted laurel. For colour I used crab apples, yellow and red rose hips and pyracantha berries. If you don't have fresh berries in your garden you can buy fresh or fake ones, or use bows made from coloured ribbon. I also like to add a few dried pine cones sprayed with gold paint. Wind some wire around the bottom layers of the cone and stick the wire into the foam.
From left to right: Top - Cotoneaster salicifolius Rothschildianus, Pittosporum variegatum, Ivy, Abies procera
Bottom - red rose hips of Rosa Francis E Lester, Pyracantha berries, crab apples from Malus Evereste, Aucuba, yellow rose hips of Rosa Wedding Day, Taxus baccata

I start with the foliage that is in larger pieces or has larger leaves, then I add the smaller ones. You will need quite small sections as only about 1 cm will be stuck into the foam. Cut down longer stems into one or two pieces. You will need more than you think, just keep adding until you can't see the foam. Remember that when you hang the wreath you will see more of the inside and top of the ring, so make sure you cover those areas.
The blue pine leaves of Noble Fir and the yellow and green variegated leaves of spotted laurel
You need a just small section of stem to push into the foam

You don't need to be very precise, just keep filling the gaps and somehow it works!

 Once you are happy with the foliage you can add the berries. It looks better if you add them in big groups rather than dot them about.

Hang the wreath and then wait for the compliments from your visitors!

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