Saturday, July 14, 2007

Making a wreath with herbs

Making Herbal Wreaths
By Tina Sams, photos by Maryanne Schwartz
Sept/Oct '06 issue of The Essential Herbal

The time is right to make a wreath, should you be so inclined. The simplicity and beauty of this craft is so rewarding, yet many are put off by the seeming complexity of it. Wreath-making classes were always quite crowded (and messy), and the creations almost always surprised the participants with their talent.

We began this particular session by going into the garden and nearby meadow in search of interesting looking botanicals. Grasses and seed heads are gorgeous, and we’ve seen really gorgeous wreaths made with nothing but the russet dock seed heads and pennywort that grow as weeds around here. Some of the other things we chose were hydrangea, ivy, bee balm, bamboo leaves (they were surprisingly pretty on the wreath!), ornamental oregano, sage, yarrow, silver king artemesia… and whatever other plants struck our fancy.
Filling a basket was easy. Stopping was a little bit harder, as the more you look, the more you see. Try to imagine how much the things will shrink when dried.

There are a few other things you need. A wreath form, greening pins, and a piece of wire for a hanger.
These items are available at craft stores. We used about 75 greening pins for this wreath.
The first thing you need to do is form a loop that will be the hanger. You may first wish to wrap the wire with florist’s tape – green lightly tacky tape that you see on floral arrangements. We did not in this case, but it adds a nice finished touch. Another consideration is to tie a ribbon to the loop so that its easy to find when the wreath is full and lush. Wrap the wire around the form and twist it closed. With the two ends, make a small loop and twist the ends together with the wire where the original twist took place.

Now you are ready to begin attaching the foliage. We were taught to make wreaths by a very particular woman who
sold hundreds of prince’s pine wreaths each holiday season. We made them for her, and if there were any holes, less than perfect branches, uneven spots, or lopsided-ness….we heard about it! Although our fingers were bruised and bloody that year, it was a great lesson in how to make wreaths, and how much more fun it is to do them for yourself.
Begin by choosing a background for your wreath. The form that we used here already had a green herby base, so we started with bamboo leaves – mostly because the bamboo plants are taking over the one hillside, and it seemed appropriate. Choose sections about 4” – 6” long and pin them to the form, overlapping them about 2” apart. Go the same direction all the way around.

The outside ring will go in the same direction, and is the next step. Alternate with other materials where you like. The small 4-6” sections that are pinned on can resemble small nosegays or bouquets.

The third shot of the wreath in process, shows the inside and outside rings completed as we are just about to start adding the center circle. At this point, we make certain that the form is closely covered, adding bits here and there, making the inside and outside rings full. We saved most of the flowers for the top or center ring. Now the real fun begins.

The center circle is set in the opposite direction to the inner and outer rings. This is done to make certain that the wreath is full and that there are no holes showing. This feels a lot like frosting a cake.

The tiny bouquets are added to all the spaces you can cram them into, resulting in the finished photo at the beginning of this post.

Dry the wreath flat on a table or counter. After two days the botanicals will have dried and shrunken, and you may then choose to add more so that it is full.
Wreaths can be made with almost anything you find growing – and even other found articles. Have fun with it, and if you don’t like it one way, take out the pins and start again!

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