How to Make an Autumn Wreath
The hedgerows are full of bejewelled branches and the garden is offering up the most perfect seed heads, hips and haws. Hydrangeas are ageing beautifully in the colder weather and a glut of Helichrysum appearing in the borders. The perfect ingredients for a garden gathered wreath.
Wreaths make the perfect adornment for any front door and can be created all year round. They should not just be limited to the festive season. Autumnal wreaths can take on many forms; branchy, asymmetrical, hydrangeas bound onto a copper frame or berries and seed heads glued onto a grapevine ring.
This is a tutorial for a mossed autumn wreath using materials gathered from the gardens of Petersham Nurseries. I have gone for a standard shape laden with crab apples, Heather, dried Hydrangeas, Helichrysum, plumes of Miscanthus grass and autumnal leaves as the base foliage. All floral materials were sourced from the garden, with the exception of the potted Heather (Erica gracilis).
The materials you will require are as follows:
1 x Copper 12″ Wreath Ring (I normally go for the raised form to give better wreath profile)
1 x Bag of Sphagnum Moss – or sheet moss
1 x reel of Florists wire (stronger than mossing twine)
5 x branches of Liquidambar styraciflua
3 x branches of Oak
7-9 x Dried or Fresh Hydrangea Heads
1 x Pot of Erica gracilis or Heather
9 branches of Crab Apple (with fruit)
10 x Helichrysum or Strawflower heads
12 x heads of Miscanthus grass
When selecting materials for a wreath, it is always a good idea to go for a range of textures; this gives the final masterpiece more interest. I am constantly looking in the hedgerows for forgeable materials, many of which are overgrown near to the nursery. Autumn offers the most interesting finds and I always pick up interesting seed heads, dried leaves and fruits to add to wreaths during the winter months.
Mossing Your Wreath Ring
Start by attaching you reel wire to the outer ring of the copper frame. Make a sausage shape from your moss and push it onto the wire frame. In a clockwise motion, bind the moss onto the frame making sure the wire is secure and not loose. I would recommend that you have a firm moss base, else the wreath will become too loose. Continue to ‘moss up’ the whole wreath ring, making sure that you do not cut the wire at any time. Leave the wire attached, to continue adding the foliage.
Adding Your Base Foliage and Wispy Bits
It’s always a good idea to cut small bundles of foliage so you can make up the wreath continuously, rather than stopping and snipping. I always create three piles of base foliage. Large branches, for the outer edge of the wreath; medium for the middle section and small for the inner section.
Start by binding your outer section first. I normally use three stems of mixed foliage angled outwards. Once this is bound on, add the middle section of foliage onto the top of the wreath and bind on. Then add the inner section, angling inwards and bind on. Continue by adding the next outer section slightly below the previous one and so on. Always work in an anti – clockwise motion until you covered the whole ring, making sure you cover the mechanics under the last bunches of cut material.
Make sure the inner branches for the wreath are small, so you can see the centre otherwise it will look like a mound of foliage.
Binding to the Base
Once the base has been finished, the reel wire can be cut and pulled through the copper ring tightly; two or three times to ensure that all materials are bound onto the base. Tuck the end of the wire into the moss at the back of the wreath, so it doesn’t scratch you paintwork.
Adding the Wired Materials
Extra green material, berries and flowers can be added to fill any gaps, or to add accents of colour. The easiest way to do this, is by hair pin wiring small branches or florets using florists stub wires (I use a 90 gauge wire) and inserting into the wreath. This method should be used for attaching the Miscanthus, Helichrysum and Crab Apples. and inserting into the wreath. Some dried material or flower heads can be delicate, so try not to be too rough when handling.
Insert the wired material into the wreath by pushing into the moss at an angle. Pull the wire through the underside and bend the end of the wire back into the moss, this will ensure that the wired material will be securely attached to the wreath. Once all materials have been wired on, tie on some ribbon or wire for hanging the wreath. I am not a huge fan of bows on wreaths and prefer the materials to speak for themselves.
Hanging in Position
Once placed in the desired position it can be misted and enjoyed for at least two or three weeks. Mist every few days to maintain the green material. Once the materials are past their best, the copper ring can be recycled for later use. Make sure all wire is removed before composting the green material. If you are foraging certain material, please do so responsibly.
Lastly, enjoy Autumn……….