It’s been a while since we blogged about making fresh foliage Christmas wreaths. So, when Sarah Diligent of Floribunda Rose invited me to join one of her workshops to learn how to make a contemporary Christmas wreath, I decided it was time to try something fresh. I love Sarah’s approach to flowers. She uses British-grown and foraged flowers and foliage as much as possible and has an effortless design style.
Sarah’s workshop is in the rural Hampshire village of Eversley. I was feeling slightly frazzled when I arrived at her door on a bitterly cold frosty December morning. I’d spent much of the drive over crawling behind a wide range of slow-going agricultural vehicles. Along miles of winding country lanes with few places to overtake. Trying not to watch the time ticking by…
The other side of the workshop door was a warm and welcoming space full of the fragrance of cinnamon, mulled wine and flickering scented candles. Sarah welcomed me with a really good cup of tea and a mince pie. I was back on track and ready to get creative with foliage.
Sarah started the workshop by showing us how to create the basic wreath. She’d actually already made us one each, so we could, as she put it ‘concentrate on the exciting creative bit.’ But she wanted us to know how she’d done it.
To make the basic wreath
You start off with a metal wreath frame in the size you choose. Sarah gets hers from her flower market, but she told us you can buy them from Hobbycraft amongst other places.
Next step is to incorporate generous handfuls of damp moss, by holding in place and attaching by winding floristry wire around as you go. The key is to keep the depth and shape as even as you can.
After the moss has been added, it’s time to add the basic greenery. You can use off cuts from your Christmas tree. Or try asking your local tree farm or supplier if they could let you have their offcuts.
The trick with this bit is to create a shaper point by cutting the ends on a diagonal. This should make it easier to push the ends through the moss and position.
Start in one place and then work your way around, going in one direction and adding pieces as you go until you’re happy with the basic shape.
Decorating the wreath
This was the part I was really looking forward to. I’d spied some beautiful pink peppercorns in a jug and really wanted to add some. I also wanted to add juniper and lavender foliage for fragrance and to add feathered texture, some dark berries and paler green shades. Sarah produced a box of dried hops and I decided I liked what they added too…
The technique for adding in the decorations is the same as adding the basic foliage. If possible, you cut a diagonal end, poke through in position and ensure the end isn’t coming out the other side.
If, like the pink peppercorns, the ends are too fine or delicate to poke through this way, you attach by using a length of florist’s wire. The technique is to cut a short length of wire, then bend it over like a hair pin before positioning it over the stalk of the piece you’re wanting to attach and poke through. Any ends that come right through can be bent over.
As you work, it’s important to keep an eye on the overall shape and balance – and to work out where the top will be.
My wreath was starting to take shape. All it needed now was some frosted fruit. I’d spotted the glass jars full of sparkling golden pears and rosy apples – but wrongly assumed they were fake. It turns out they were real fruit that had been dipped in wax and sprinkled with sparkle. Which made me love them even more.
I decided to go for the rosy apples because I liked the way they looked with the pink peppercorns.
The knack to adding the fruit is to take two lengths of floristry wire and poke each through the base of the apple and then fold back and around to create one length of wire with an apple secured at one end. This gets poked through in the same way as the foliage and other decorations.
There was a box of beautiful ribbons to choose from but I decided to keep mine simple and decided not to add a bow.
To create the wire hanger, you take two pieces of strong florist’s wire and create a strong loop which gets poked in and back around at the point that you’ve chosen as your top.
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