One of the best things about gardening is the relationship between nature and the home. Christmas is a special time of the year when people bring all manner of plants into their front rooms. But don’t go running out to buy festive decorations; there is nothing more satisfying than making them from things in the garden. You will be surprised that even the smallest plot can offer a bountiful harvest of festive materials, but also having a rummage around the gardens of your friends and family.
Wreaths are generally split into two types, those that are made on a wire frame covered in moss and those that are made on a floral foam ring. The latter are the easiest for beginners and can be seen as flower arranging (with leaves) in a ring.
Start of by having a good look around you garden. You can make the base of your wreath out of pretty much any foliage but conifer and spruce go well with the Christmas theme. You need 2-3 different types of foliage to keep the wreath interesting. Look at the form of the foliage that you pick and try and go for a couple of different leaf arrangements. When cutting material from your plants, try and hide where you make your cuts and remember that some plants can take a long while to grow back.
Now the fun really starts! Begin with a ready-made floral foam wreath ring that you have soaked in a bucket of water for about 15 minutes. Floral foam is available from most good craft shops. The first foliage that you use is to make the backdrop for the wreath and is generally the less interesting material. I like to use Leyland cypress (× Cuprocyparis) as it is readily available and makes a good background for all the other foliage you choose. Cut small pieces of the foliage and insert them around the edge of the ring. Remove any needles or side shoots on the stem to be inserted to the foam to help keep the hole created as small as possible.
When you have created a nice thick halo of foliage around the outside, use the same material to go around the inside of the ring. If you have a couple of different foliage types for your background then add those in now. I have used incense cedar (Calocedrus) and variegated western red cedar (Thuja). Be careful with variegated plants though as a little goes a long way.
Once you are happy with the background foliage, move on to covering the main body of the foam. Start with one type of foliage and add to the wreath in three clusters. Then pick another type of foliage and do the same thing. Keep going with different foliage until you can’t really see the foam. I have used yew, spruce, hebe, and cedar.
If you have collected pine cones, these can be added now. Attach a length of wire to the base of the cone by twisting it in between the lower scales. This can be inserted into the foam in the same way as the foliage. Finally, add holly berries and foliage. Holly berries are easily knocked off, while the foliage is prickly so handle both as little as possible.
If you don’t want a traditional looking decoration, try using more unusual materials. Dried flowers and seed heads can all be used; the only limitation is your imagination.
That’s it, with a bit of luck you will have created a beautiful wreath that can be placed on your table at Christmas or attach it to your front door. Is there anything better than saying it all came from the garden?