The tradition of decorating with evergreens is one that holds a special place in my idea of Christmas festivities. This year is actually the first time we’ve decorated with our own wreath after years of living in apartments without a street-facing door, so I was really excited to make our own entirely with foraged materials.
We set out on a lovely, crisp, wintery walk with our basket on a lovely sunny afternoon, and while we had an idea of the kinds of things we were looking for, we kept an open mind about what might look good on our wreath. The first things we found were some gorgeous copper-coloured oak leaves hanging in dried bunches on the tree, and some dried teasel seed heads that would give some lovely rustic accents. Some fallen birch branches and about eight boughs of yew were gathered for the base, and a couple of ivy vines to give a some leafy detail and a different shade of green. Then we found some gorgeous heather to give another texture, and some sprigs of pine, and holly – some with berries and some without.
Foraging for a wreath is very much like foraging for food, you only take what you need, don’t cause too much stress to the living plants, and don’t take too many berries etc that birds will begin to rely on in the depths of winter. I gathered just enough for a wreath, not to decorate my entire house. It’s also probably worth me noting that yew, holly and ivy are not for eating, so washing hands after working with them is advised, but I’m not worried that anyone is going confuse my handmade wreath with some sort of tasty snack!
Once home from our walk, and after warming up with a hot drink, I was ready to make our wreath. I started by making the base of birch twigs, staggering them by a few inches and attaching each new twig to the preceding one with copper wire. Once all attached together in a long line, I wound them into a ring and used more wire to bundle them all together. I find it easier using wire than twine, and I’m planning to dismantle the wreath after Christmas and save the wire for next year, and composting the rest.
Next I layered on the yew boughs, staggering them around the base and fixing them with more wire. I thought it was quite spindly and leggy at this point, but it soon bulked out as I added in the various other pieces of greenery that I found.
Once I had the base of twigs and yew, I wound round the ivy vines and filled out any gaps with some holly (without berries – I kept the ones with the berries until last so they wouldn’t be hidden) and the sprigs of dried oak leaves. At this point I was happy that I had a good base of foliage upon which to build with the smaller accents and details.
I filled the base out a little further with the pine sprigs and the heather, which gave it a lovely textural contrast. At this point I was on to the finishing touches adding in the holly with the berries, making sure the little pops of read were evenly spaced around the wreath. The very last pieces to go in where the dried teasel seed heads giving that thistle-like effect and balancing with the autumn-browns of the oak leaves.
In the end I was very pleased with the finished article which goes perfectly with our front door don’t you think?
I have thoroughly loved everything about making this wreath, from wrapping up warm for a wintery walk to gather all of the greenery, to the feeling of the hot drink warming my hands when we got home with our full basket, to enjoying the scent and texture of each piece that I put into the arrangement. Then there is the comforting knowledge that once dismantled at the end of the season, nothing will be going in the bin!
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