I grew up in the US, the land of the front door wreath. While wreaths have been around since Roman times to celebrate sporting prowess, military success, love and even just to provide a welcome, modern materials and holidays have upped the ante quite a bit. Usually made from synthetic materials, today’s all-weather wreaths are often themed, ready-made and get dragged out of the attic when it is seasonally appropriate. I have some that I bought ages ago that get stuck to the front and kitchen doors every Christmas. They don’t match, they are bit tired, but it is tradition.
I am glad to notice however, a trend on Pinterest towards living wreaths, especially the gorgeous, succulent plant wreaths. A friend’s mum made one for her and I fell in love, vowing to make one myself. Which I haven’t done as yet. But I will.
While I have absolutely nothing against ‘un-natural’ wreaths as such, especially if they are used again and again and not just chucked in the rubbish when, say, Christmas is over, how much nicer to put together a welcoming cheerful orb made of living plants and found objects?
Or, if time and resources are limited, why not make a temporary, but still beautiful natural wreath?
I was inspired to make this simple spring-inspired decoration by 1) a naked willow wreath hanging on a wall, 2) the beautiful wild plants I see on my walks, and 3) er, my moss-covered lawn. If we had a lawn. A lawn implies grass, which we have not. Overshadowed by a massive oak that actually obscures our house on Google Earth (I am not exaggerating), and bounded by high hedges and other trees, a fair bit of our poor garden is deeply shaded and dry, dry, dry. We are awaiting the arrival of a scarifier to exfoliate and rejuvenate our poor soil and get rid of the moss, but before it went I thought I might actually try and turn our moss problem into a project. So, here is what I did:
I got my willow wreath off the wall and gave it a wee dust. You could use something similar, or even a grass/hay one. What you really want is to have a wreath that you can tuck things into. Because you will use natural bits and bobs, a glue gun probably won’t do you much good. And we are trying to keep it low-tech.
Next came the add ons. I had gathered some pussy willow stems from a walk I went on to pick wild garlic and nettles. I must have looked quite the pioneer/mad woman with my scissors, carrier bag full of green weeds and some pussy willow wedged under my arm. Luckily I don’t care. At the time I popped the willow stems dry into a vase and just admired the fluffy buds, but when I thought about making the wreath the beautiful silvery textured stems immediately sprang to mind. We also have ivy growing over a fence or two so I went out and snipped lengths of it – the younger leaves and tendrils being the most pliable and amenable to craft work. And then there was that damn moss. To make this suitable for a dining table you would want to use sterilised, bagged moss from a craft store, but as mine is for a hall table I just got a flat trowel and lifted the rootless moss straight off the earth. Oh, and I had some leftover quails’s eggs from this recipe, so I blew them out (it is very fiddly). As you do. You could buy pre-blown ones or use artificial ones. Or not use them at all.
I then took everything outside and set to creating. I shaped the moss around the wreath, tucking it in the hollows. I think it looks good with some of the wreath showing, but you could cover the whole thing. I then wrapped the ivy around parts of the wreath, including the sides – again, tucking in the ends. If you have a long length of ivy it would be nice to wrap it round and round. With the stems of budded willow I cut short, slightly irregular lengths and anchored them into the wreath’s hollows. If you don’t have willow – or you want a splash of colour – use narcissi or muscari. But these will begin to fade and wilt very quickly so is really only suitable for wreaths for a specific date or if you can renew them as the blossoms fade. If you use quail’s eggs you will need to attach them by pushing a short pin (sequin pins, if you have them) through the underside of a stem of ivy and into the egg. Or, do as I did and just lay them carefully where you want them, nestling them into the moss. If you aren’t moving the wreath around the house then just laying them should suffice. Lastly, I placed it on a white flat plate and popped in some random candles I scavenged from around the house.
I made the wreath over a week ago and it still looks lovely and welcoming in the hall. I might mist it with some water to see if it lasts longer but as I have everything I need to renew and even alter the wreath I might just do that.
In truth this was something I did on the spur of the moment, and wasn’t even going to blog it. But as I had got such a lovely response on Instagram I thought I might share it with you too. I hope you like the idea, if not the slightly ‘rustic’ outcome. It is certainly a bit rough and ready but if you have a lawn full of moss and an old wreath sitting around not doing anything, you could do worse that make this up with your own spring foraged finds. I didn’t inherit my mother’s crafting gene, but I do think this is something that even the most inept of crafters (me) can get away with. Just. :-) Oh, and if you want, do follow me on Instagram for fun things that don’t show up here, like today’s kimchi (!) nachos, and general food to glow recipe development nonsense. Rarely a selfie in sight, although I do play with my food.