Let's Get Creative: Makin' Evergreen Wreaths

This time of year is filled with joy, loved ones, and lots of cozy warm beverages.  What it is not filled with (at least in our area) are fresh flowers.  Part of embracing local flowers is also embracing the season.  Each season is unique, and what is growing is also.  Yes, evergreens are ever there but our appreciation for them comes when the trees are barren, the garden is hibernating, and the lawn is brown.  The fresh green the junipers and firs provide are truly highlighted.  Aside from our landscapes, we just love to drag them into our homes through Christmas trees, garlands, swags… and wreaths.

 

Let’s go into how to make a wreath!  I’ll go into each step of the process.  If you’re in the mood for a little adventure and creativity this is the project for you! Grab your mug of hot cocoa, pruners and let’s get started.

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Every year we go into the Sierras for our Christmas tree.  Usually, the day after Thanksgiving.  It is quite the deal for our family.  Snow shoes and camp-out stoves (because there is nothing like gobbling hot turkey soup and sipping on hot chocolate while trekking through snow in search of the perfect tree).  If you’re like us, the tree always looks a little smaller out in the wilderness, therefore, once we get it home there’s always a few branches that need to be cut off.  I like to save the branches for wreath making.  Waste not, want not.

 

A key when making wreaths is texture.  Having a few different types of greenery adds interest.  Throw in some quirky branches, dried flowers, and pine cones (or even ornaments if you want!) and you will have a gorgeous wreath to be proud of.

 

 Pictured: curly willow, nankin berries, pyracantha, douglas fir, juniper, pine cones, dried limelight hydrangeas, red dogwood branches, random flower stems.  Paddle of floral wire, pruners, floral snips, wire cutter, 12-inch wire wreath base.

Pictured: curly willow, nankin berries, pyracantha, douglas fir, juniper, pine cones, dried limelight hydrangeas, red dogwood branches, random flower stems.  Paddle of floral wire, pruners, floral snips, wire cutter, 12-inch wire wreath base.

First, you need to gather up some tools and supplies. 

-               Pruners 

-               Floral snips

-               Paddle of floral wire

-               Wire cutters

-               Wreath base (wire or grapevine)

-               Spray bottle filled with water

-               Crowning glory (optional)

Most of these tools you can find at home improvement and craft stores.  

Once you have your floral supplies ready it’s time for the fun part, foraging!  As mentioned, I like to save the leftover branches from our Christmas tree.  We usually go for douglas fir.  The needles don’t’ drop as easily and I love the slight undertone of dusty blue.  Any evergreen with broad needles will work.  There are pines with long skinny needles that are fun but the needles will drop off quickly, so if you decide to use those just be aware of that.  Some other great greens to use are cedar, juniper, and spruce.  I recommend using a combination of at least two-three of the greens.  When it comes to wreath making, its about layering.  It will make your wreath more eye-catching and look professionally made.

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Once you’ve gathered your chosen base greenery, it’s time to seek out the “quirky” elements.  I personally love curly willow branches.  My father-in-law has a corkscrew willow tree.  The tree is the bane of his existence with it’s messiness but to me it’s like the tree rains little gifts down.  I love going after a windy day and collecting them all, each twig has its own quirky personality.  I love the uncontrollable, which that is curly willow for sure.  Also, red or yellow dogwood branches are beautiful but really, any twig or small branch will do.  If it catches your eye, use it!  I even like to use old flower stems and seed heads. 

 Love the quirky curly willow branches!

Love the quirky curly willow branches!

 

Then you just need your embellishments.  Pinecones, dried flowers, berries, dried pomegrante- anything you find beautiful! Get creative, it’s pretty limitless. 

 Dried hydrangeas and yarrow seed heads

Dried hydrangeas and yarrow seed heads

 

The last bit is your chosen ribbon, to hang the wreath with (you could make a bow too!).  Depending on the size base you choose to make your wreath, you want a ribbon or fabric that can handle the weight of it.  

 

Once you’ve mustered all your materials, it’s time to start creating.

 

For this tutorial, I am using a twelve-inch wire base for the wreath.  The more common size is fourteen-inch and there are larger sizes for the real enthusiastic!

The ingredients I'm using for this wreath are:

- douglas fir

- juniper

- corkscrew willow and red dogwood branches

- pinecones

- nandina berries

- dried hydrangeas

 

Step 1: make 13-15 bundles

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The make up of a wreath is a bunch of mini-size bouquets.  Usually, you want to stick to about six to eight stems.  You want it to be fluffy but not too big and heavy.  Then you want the length of your stems to be from six to eight inches (pretty easy to remember, huh?).  For the thick branches you’ll want to use your pruners but for the more delicate elements you’ll want to use your floral snips.  Be sure to use your wire cutters, not your pruners or snips to cut the wire, that’s a good way to ruin them!

 

Choose your base.  I chose to use the fir.  I like the fluffiness of it, it definitely adds volume to the wreath!  Depending on the size, I used 2-3 stems.

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Then I layered juniper.  I had a juniper that was a dusty blue and one more green.  Every other bundle I switched which colored juniper I wanted to use, to add more color and interest.

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Next, I added my quirky elements.  I decided to use red dogwood and curly willow branches.  I alternated which branch I used between the bundles. 

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Once you have your bundle together then wrap floral wire around the stems a few times.  Cut wire and move onto the next bundle.  First one down, about thirteen more to go!

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Step 2: Secure your bundles to the wreath base.

 Choose which direction you want to lay down your bundles, be sure to lay all the bundles in the same direction.

Choose which direction you want to lay down your bundles, be sure to lay all the bundles in the same direction.

 

To do this, lay your bundles down and wrap the wire around a few times, moving down with each bundle.  Do the entire wreath continuously, without cutting the wire, be sure to keep the wire taut.  Choose a direction and be sure to maintain that direction throughout the wreath.  Getting the last one or two bundles on the wreath can be tricky, take your time and be sure to not catch foliage under the wire.  Once all the bundles are secure, cut the wire, and tuck the wire end into the wreath.

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 The base is all down!

The base is all down!

 

Step 3: Trim

Trim any greenery that is just going crazy, unless you prefer to live on the wild side(which I often do!).

 

Step 4: Add embellishments

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Like you did with the evergreen bundles, choose your embellishments and make little bouquets with them.  With pine cones and large flowers, like hydrangeas, I like to wire them separately by carefully wrapping the wire around the center, then twisting the wire behind it, then I take the extra wire and wrap it around the wreath ring to secure.

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Step 5: Add ribbon

 

Choose a strong cloth ribbon.  For my wreaths, I usually opt for burlap or for the one pictured I cut up some muslin.  I love the natural, easy look.  Eventually, the muslin might shred slightly, which I feel adds even more character!  A lot of times, I prefer to make my own “ribbon” out of scrap fabric. 

 

Step 6: Finish

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You can spray the wreath with some crowning glory, if you would like.  It acts as a sealant to lock in moisture.  But if you don’t have that handy, spray with water.

 

All that is left is simply to hang and enjoy!

 

For the longest lasting wreath, keep out of direct sunlight.  If the wreath is going to be kept indoors, every couple of days, sprits with water to keep fresh.

 

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and it inspired you to brave the cold, explore your backyard, and get imaginative!

 

Happy creating!

- Jessica