Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Wreath Making, Massacres and Electric Leaves

I have merely missed my deadline by one year.  That said I'm quite happy with the finished article.  I'm pleased with it not just because it looks good, but because it was practically cost free.  Around this time last year I decided that I would try to make my own wreaths.  I bought five wire frames from a floristry shop for under £2.00 ($3.25) and I intended to make a wreath for myself and another four as gifts for family members.  As with many great ideas this one was shelved.  Until now that is.

The desire to craft my own wreath was invoked once more when the Christmas period started to advance.  Images in glossy magazines, shops with wreath laden shelves and the ever nagging wire wreath frames above my kitchen cabinet all begged for me to find an ounce of motivation.  This appeared insufficient until I was forced to take action.  

Every day for the past year I have walked past a beautiful variegated Holly.   This specimen was at least eight foot high and stood out from its neighbours, all of whom had solid green leaves of various shades.  I write about these plants in the past tense as the County Council has decided to go ahead and massacre anything that stood above three foot in height.  Mighty shrubs have been brought down to ground level and the area now resembles a petrified forest as there are only stumps of what preceded the cull.  The resulting mass of unwanted foliage was piled in a corner, screened from public view, and left alone to compost.  Naturally I seized the opportunity to make good use of this material and my creative juices flowed once again.  Aided by two friends, and armed with my jute bag, I collected an ample quantity of the electric vegetation.

Once home I set about wiring the the stems to the frame.  This was done with little trouble, except for the damage inflicted as prickly Holly fought to turn my hands in to pin cushions, and for a first attempt I am extremely pleased with the outcome.  I chose to keep the wreath simple as I feel variegated leaves provide enough of a statement to warrant restraint on my behalf.  Also, as the wreath is to be placed on my black high gloss front door I felt there was enough contrast there.

I urge you to create your own wreath.  My wreath cost next to nothing and I'm sure you can do the same too.  Demonstrate your individuality, let those creative juices flow and take pride in your craft.  Next year I will be sure to replicate the process and only pray that the County Council take an equally harsh line on its annual pruning regime.

Have you made your own wreath?  Do you have any tips?  Or has this post inspired you?  Either way I'd love to hear your thoughts, stories and comments.


  1. Victoria did a similar blog a few days ago - seems variegated holly is in this year!

    I'm toying with the idea of making a really kitsch tropical wreath - pineapple, palm leaves, coconuts and Strelitzia flowers. Maybe next year. Or never..

    Nice result! :-)

  2. Gorgeous! I love the graphic shape against the door.
    I work in a flower shop and have to make wreaths for customers. I know that holly is a beast to work with, quite the challenge for your first wreath.

  3. You made a lovely wreath, Ryan. And you're right... it is a nice contrast against the black door.


  4. V. inspiring Ryan - I've been toying with the idea of having a go at wreath-making this year, so am going to dash out this weekend and buy all the kit. But whether I can actually make something worthy of hanging on my door this Christmas remains to be seen. I love the simplicity of just one type of foliage - and so gallantly recycled from a brutal pruning. Nice work!

  5. Every year I always try and make my own wreaths. This is mainly due to the reason I cannot stand ribbon. Failed this year due to studying and work. Next year will try harder to be more organised. I have a very large Holly bush in the garden and lots of Ivy,so please start to nag me next November.

  6. Great idea Ryan! Have a great Christmas and hopefully we'll manage to meet in 2010 when I'm up your way. Will be doing my India gardens in the next few weeks, and then it's off to the US again in the New Year!

  7. Hi Ryan - I seem to be forever coming on here and saying snap! ;)

    I made my first wreaths a couple of years ago (some of my very early posts). You can do it even more cheaply and with less lacerated fingers if you so desire...

    Silvery variegated ivy and Euonymus make very good substitutes for the holly. If you've got access to willow and or dogwood stems, then a little light pruning will give you enough material for your base. These can be easily woven into a circle, or secured with a little wire if you're not confident your weaving will stay together!

    I used rosehips from a local hedgerow to represent the holly berries, you can dethorn these quite easily first before using. You can then tie them into little bunches and then secure them to the base.

    Yew can also be used and also is symbolic for this time of the year as it's supposed to ward off evil spirits.

  8. Ryan

    I love your creation - it looks great against your door. I saw in a certain garden centre today (one that you have featured on your site in previous blogs recently) little bunches of red berries - about 8 to a bunch each one individually wired that would be great for floral art and you could add some berries to your wreath........... they were 30p a bunch. BTW yours looks good without the berries!

  9. Very festive. Works well with the number on the door too. I have the variegated Holly but not a wire frame which is my excuse for having no wreath.

  10. That has got to be THE most elegant wreath!

  11. I finally got around to making a wreath this year too. I tied some random bunches of variegated holly, ivy and conifer from the garden with some spindle and bryony berries from the hedgerow, onto an old coat hanger with gold raffia and was amazed to find that it looked OK! All free apart from the raffia and took no time to make. Very proud of myself!


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