It’s a perennial problem…it’s true, but on a positive note, problems require creative thought and we all love a challenge, right? During the coming winter months we have to look that bit harder for natures bounty so when we find a dazzling spindle bush amongst bare twigs and oceans of grey, we can appreciate it’s jolly pink berries bobbing about that much more.
Every year I start to think about wreaths as soon as the weather turns. I start to notice where the abundant hedgerows are and I never leave home without a pair of scissors in my coat pocket. I think my glove box has 3 gloves (in the hope the forth turns up) and a fair few pairs of secateurs (best to be sure). My children are very used to me randomly stopping the car on a country lane and hopping out to grab armfuls of old mans beard *
So far the berries are looking lovely (it is only early October), but of course the birds think so too! Berried holly can be harvested in November and stored in a little water somewhere dark and dry. You want avoid the water freezing, so you’ll need to keep an eye on that. But early picking will mean you can keep some juicy red berries for yourself at Christmas! The birds stay off pyracantha as they aren’t berries, but pomes & related to the apple. They will eat them but it makes them drunk, so prefer not too! Guilt free harvesting, if you can brave the thorns.** As I use a lot of orange coloured materials when left to my own devices and my hands are less than delicate, pryacanthus is perfect for me.
Dried elements are a good way to get bright colour onto a Christmas wreath too. Here are a few images of my creations using butternut squash slices, chillies, rose hips and chinese lanterns. I have dried beetroot too, but as you may imagine it does stain your hands and everything else pink. Wreaths with dried elements need to kept out of the rain.
Hydrangea are beautiful dried. Cut them in the autumn when there is still colour and hang upside down somewhere dry. Make sure you have good air flow around each head as condensation in-between the petals will turn them brown. They look great with pheasant feathers and lavender.
Making a wreath is a fun thing to do with children. It all starts with a walk in the woods and a basket. You’ll make your life easier if you buy a copper wreath frame, but a wire coat hanger bent into shape will do. Bind on moss and twigs to get a good base and then start embellishing with your foraged woodland finds. Have fun!
Try winning one of my wreath making workshops by entering the Last Hurrah competition on Facebook. Pick some garden flowers, arrange and photograph. Email me firstname.lastname@example.org winner announced on Facebook October 31st.
*try spraying old mans beard with hair spray to stop it dropping
**Monty says Pryacantha is a tough plant and can handle being cut back at any time…hurrah!