After the gathering, it all started with the weathered grapevine wreath. You might remember it? It's been hanging on our house by the front door since then. I've loved its simplicity, and that it's always been there, through winter, spring, summer, and fall - decoration that wasn't confined to any one season. Though the grasses I'd put in it had long since blown away, the willow tips were still (mostly) there. It was perfect. Select a juniper stem, pick up the clippers. Not long, and the muscle memory from my former floral designing years, coupled with the sheer love of the craft, came rushing back, guiding the separate parts into a beautiful whole.
If you'd like to try your hand at making a holiday wreath, here are steps to follow:
Thankfully, you don't have to use a grapevine base, although I do like the natural element. You can also use a wire wreath base and florist's paddle wire, or you can make your own wire base by simply bending any stout wire into a circle (coat hanger, anyone?). There are other bases available, but let's just keep it simple. Grin.
The next thing I do is choose a floral material that'll provide a visual context for all the other components in the design. Usually this base material is the thing I have the most of. In this case, I used juniper branches. The photo on the left shows how I've prepped the stems by stripping all offshoots up the main stem several inches, then cutting the stem end at an angle. The sharp point makes it easier to insert the stems into the grapevine base.
Do you notice in the photo on the right how the branch has a natural bend? All natural floral components have a 'face' so-to-speak. Use it to your advantage and place them in the design so that nothing looks like its facing backward or going the wrong direction.
I went around the wreath base, randomly placing juniper tips into the grapevine base, following the same directional pattern of the willow tips. An important note: Placing floral materials on the outside and inside edges of the wreath, as well as the face of the wreath will keep it visually balanced and prevent it from looking front heavy.
If you're using a wire base, add branch bunches to your base, wrapping the stem end of each bunch securely to the base with florist's paddle wire. Or, you can follow these instructions if all you have are pipe cleaners or twist ties.
After I had all the juniper in place, I then added the other evergreen components - pine brooms and fir tips. I love how different textures of the same shade play off of one another. I could have stopped right there and it would have been beautiful.
Next, I added the dried leaf branches and sumac, placing them randomly where it seemed best. The last to go on the wreath were the rose hips. I purposely left the stems longer so they would float above the design and give an airy quality. Note: I wedged each stem into the grapevine wreath by might and determination, with some careful wiggling at times. If I was producing this commercially, I would anchor each element to the wreath base by first dipping the stem end into a pot of melted florist's glue. But in my case, I want to be able to use the grapevine base again.
I returned the wreath to its hook by the door just in time to catch a few minutes of late afternoon sun.