Wreath making — fun all year-round!

Alison Limoges Wreath making in progress.

Wreath making — fun all year-round!

There are many ways to make attractive, decorative wreaths year-round. The variety of possible shapes, sizes, backings, decorations, and attachment methods allow for great creativity. Wreath making provides excellent opportunities to recycle and reuse man-made items and natural objects.

Homemade wreath making encourages us to give haircuts to overgrown trees, bushes, vines, grasses, weeds, and wildflowers as well as to save pine cones, seeds, nuts, and pods that fall to the ground in our yards and on our sidewalks.

Wreaths give us color, texture, fragrance, memories, joy, and beauty. They add interest to a door, window, cupboard, or wall. They can be made on the fly — outdoors or inside. Throw down an old sheet to transform a table, carpet, or floor into a workspace that can handle the temporary, fun mess.

Ready to try it? Then gather some of the following:
• Newspapers or an old sheet
• Glue: a hot glue gun with glue sticks, or tacky glue
• Floral wire
• Scissors and gardening shears
• Round-shaped forms of wire, straw, or Styrofoam
• Branches that are green and thin enough to bend easily: pine, fir, olive, willow, eucalyptus, rosemary
• Leaves: magnolia, Ginkgo, maple, Bay
• Seeds: pods, acorns, chestnuts, chilis, yucca, beans, dried fruit
• Decorations: feathers, shells, beads, bells, bangles, and bows

To make a free-form wreath anywhere and anytime: Cut a long, fresh, thornless vine such as grapevine or ivy. Create a circle of any size and weave one end into the other end — over under, over under until it holds in place. Take a second vine cutting and start anywhere on the vine circle except at the original end. Loop the cut end through the vines and repeat the over under twining around the circle. Repeat with remaining cut vine lengths to achieve a desired width and shape to the wreath. Then tuck in small sprigs of cut fresh flowers, weeds, reeds, grasses, pods, berries, etc. in intervals around the wreath. This small, light-weight impromptu wreath can easily be hung with a nail or hook anywhere. I like to make this kind from tall weeds I find by the side of the road, on trips to visit friends. Surprisingly, freshly-picked or cut flowers tucked into a wreath retain their color for a very long time.

For a wire-formed wreath the process is the same. Put together a small handful of one or more kinds of small cut branches. Wrap a cut length of floral wire around the ends of the greenery to hold them in place. Place the end of this bundle through a hole in the wire form. Wrap another piece of floral wire around this bundle to hold it onto the wire form. Repeat this process, tucking new bundles under and next to the original one, all facing in the same direction — clockwise, for example. Make sure the new branches hide the floral wire so it’s not visible. When the whole form is covered with bunches of branches, insert some natural or store-bought decorations to add interest. Tuck them into the bundles and hold them in place with floral wire or hot glue. Attach a small loop of floral wire on the top back of the form for hanging.

A Styrofoam backing is great for inserting thick-stemmed leaves and twigs. Magnolia leaves work really well. If uniformity is desired, use leaves of comparable size. Push the stem ends into the foam, facing the leaves in the same direction, and hold them in place with hot glue. Cover the top and sides of the form. Glue additional decorations in intervals around the wreath, to cover any holes and to add color and interest.

A straw wreath form is a good backing for leaves, small sprigs, pine cones, yucca, and other large pods, wrapped fabric, and more. The straw may be left natural or covered with moistened floral moss. Place bunches, leaves, pods, etc. in the same direction and wrap their ends with floral wire. Once completed, all natural wreaths will last longer if freshened regularly with water from a spray bottle.

With holiday trees and decorations in big demand now, and with some in short supply, this might be the time to try homemade wreath making, using cuttings and findings from the yard or street. This is a fun, satisfying project to do with family and friends — any place, any time, year-round!

Alameda Backyard Growers is dedicated to teaching our neighbors how to grow food. During this difficult time, our education program has moved online. Visit us at https://www.alamedabackyardgrowers.org to join our mailing list to receive our educational newsletters and information on classes and events, locate the Free Seed Library nearest you, or join Project Pick as a fruit picker or fruit donor. Contact ABG at info@alamedabackyardgrowers.org.

Alison Limoges A lovely homemade wreath.