How to make a beautiful natural Christmas wreath
- Credit: Archant
Sarah Eley at Place for Plants, East Bergholt, shows you how by foraging from your garden and hedgerows
Sara Eley is busily cutting and snipping the evergreen foliage she has sourced from the garden that morning. They will be made into tiny bunches to form the basis of one of her beautiful Christmas wreaths.
“You can find suitable foliage for your wreath from your own garden or by simply foraging in the hedgerows,” she advises.
In Sara’s case, there are hedges galore at The Place for Plants, East Bergholt.
“Most of this is from around the car park,” she says with a modest wave at a magnificent display of foliage, berries, flowerheads and even pheasant feathers on the floor of the polytunnel.
There are stand-out berries such as the rusty red velvety fruit of Arbutus unedo, the strawberry tree, the bright berries of skimmia, and the winged native spindle berry revealing the vivid orange seed inside.
Sara and Rupert Eley have the National Collection of euonymus, the many scores of spindle plants, both fruits and foliage ideal for wreaths, swags and table decorations. Variegated foliage helps to lift the end result although, ouch! Be aware of how prickly holly is.
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Among dried flowerheads, hydrangea is an ideal candidate, bringing a touch of luxury to your wreath.
“Pick hydrangea before the rotting off stage, put it in water and it will dry out naturally,” Sara advises. If you were doing a really big wreath, you could use the full flower head but otherwise it needs to be snipped into small segments to tie into the wreath once you have your greenery in place.
She enjoys it when her workshop participants bring their own greenery, if only to see what they come up with. One regularly brings Brussels sprouts, she says.
As our wreath takes shape, a ladybird alights on the foliage right on cue, proving how natural they are.
“And you will find birds will come along and pinch the berries, especially with cotoneaster” laughs Sara. That could be construed as a Christmas gift for them and for you too as you watch them feed.
If you make your wreath at the beginning of December it should last until Christmas, says Sara. All you need to do is give it a spray of water now and again.
Three options for a Christmas wreath
Attend a workshop
Sara is offering two workshops this year Tuesday 8 December and Thursday 10 December. The cost is £20 if you bring your own greenery and £30 if Sara supplies it. You simply need secateurs and warm clothes as you will be in a large polytunnel where you can be socially distanced. Details are on the website placeforplants.co.uk/events-garden-open-days
Make your own
If you can’t get to a workshop you can buy the wire frames and everything you need for your wreath at Place for Plants, including moss for the base. Then you simply add your own greenery, dried flower heads and accessories, following Sara’s simple steps choose. Snip and mix!
If you simply run out of time, you can order a ready-made wreath from Sara from £25 – a very competitive price compared with online versions. Sara can also do Christmas table arrangements to order.
A wreath in six easy steps by Sara Eley
1. Gather the makings
You will need:
Wire wreath frame
Reel of thin floral wire
50 cm of 5mm thick ribbon
Any evergreen foliage with small leaves so the wires don’t cut through them.
Sara used: conifer, skimmia, euonymus, cotoneaster, ivy, box, dried hydrangea heads (pictured here), silk tassel, variegated holly, spindle berries, and pink sorbus berries
You will also need dried fruit such as split limes and orange slices and feathers to finish
2. Prepare your base
Take one end of the thin wire and tie it to the frame.
Add your moss, securing it by going round and round with the thin wire. Moss will provide you with the moisture to keep your wreath damp.
Use your secateurs to cut the wire using the notches at the very base so as not to damage the blades.
3. Snip your greenery with secateurs to make short-stemmed, little bunches which you will tie into the frame. Using three types of greenery in each bunch works well. Don’t worry about perfection as this is your basis for dried flowers, berries or dried fruit for example.
4. Lay your bunches of greenery on top of the moss, one by one, all in the same direction, wiring them in as you go. The secret is to lay it on top of the greenery. Don’t worry if you think it has gone askew. You can prune it at the end. You can now see your wreath taking shape.
Leave a length of wire to thread through and secure everything. Now make a loop with wire or ribbon to hang the wreath.
5. Add your accents
Our wreath uses split limes through which wire is threaded for attaching to the frame. Remember to use odd numbers – one , three or five - for your accents to make your creation more aesthetically pleasing. You can also use orange slices, cinnamon sticks or fir cones, even adding a cheeky robin at the end.
6. Finishing touches
Pheasant or similar bird feathers will add an exotic touch, make your wreath much larger, and giving it a feeling of movement if you add them in the same direction.
Now choose your ribbon, making a bow before tying it to your wreath with a thin ribbon which will be hidden at the back of your creation. The green and gold ribbon Sara chose gave the wreath a wonderful Tudor feel.
A truly welcoming sight for your Christmas guests.