Christmas is over for another year, but my Christmas wreath is still looking good! In the pre-christmas rush, I took a little time to photograph the steps to making a simple, native wreath. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to blog … but better late than never, I thought I'd sneak it in before the New Year!
For this simple fresh wreath, I start with a 12" floral foam wreath. They are available from floral supplies stores, usually under $10. I soak the floral foam so that it is completely full of water before I begin.
I like to begin by selecting all the materials I want to use and have them on the table around my work space. I love to create combinations of foliage - subtle colours and textures that really give the wreath a special something! For this wreath, I start with some sprigs of Tasmanian myrtle beech foliage. It is really fresh at this time of year. The new seasons growth has changed from red to rich glossy green.
I cut sprigs the right length, and remove the leaves from the bottom few centimetres of the stem. I cut the stems on an angle so that they are sharp and firm to press into the floral foam. I work my way around the wreath until all the sprigs are evenly spaced. I don't worry too much about neatness at this stage - its good to work quickly to build up the layers.
Next, I add some fir that I've foraged from the garden. I like the contrast between it and the myrtle beech. I also like the structure of the fir and the way it provides a fuller look to the wreath. It's important to remove the small needles from the stems of the fir sprigs before they are pressed into the foam, otherwise they won't hold firmly. This can be a little fiddly. I add a small amount of myrtle to the centre of the wreath at this stage too.
Next, I add some sprigs of wax flower. They add another dimension of green but also provide beautiful little highlights with the flowers that peep out. The wax flower adds a beautiful honey scent too.
With each layer of green, I try to balance the wreath, filling gaps and creating a nice shape but also thinking about covering the outer and inner edges of the floral foam so that they don't stand out and detract from the finished product.
Next, I added some Leucadendron Maui Sunset. They are a light fresh green at this time of year, with pink tips. In this picture you can see that all the sprigs and flowers are pressed into the foam in the same direction, sweeping around the arc of the wreath. This is important for the design of the wreath. If things are added in different directions, the wreath can get really untidy and doesn't come together harmoniously.
With this wreath, I decided to use just the one main flower to bring the design together. Leucospermum Scarlet Ribbons is a great christmas flower. The 12" wreath fits 5 of these flowers really well in s sort of star shape. Odd numbers are generally more pleasing, visually. 4 flowers would detract from the circle shape of the wreath, making it look too square. I cut the stems quite short, and remove all the leaves before pressing the first flower firmly into the centre of the band of floral foam.
The placement of the 5 Leucospermums or Pincushions is quite important because they really stand out as the main feature of the design. The first flower is placed and then the others are added carefully to create the 5 points of an invisible star.
Adjust the flowers carefully until they are well spaced and sitting evenly.
The final stages of the wreath involve adding the special touches and filling the gaps, adjusting until everything sings! This year I really enjoyed adding little sprigs of holly to my wreaths. I have a holly bush that is slowly getting big enough to pick from. Wear gloves when picking and preparing it though as it is really prickly! Again, the springs are cut on a sharp diagonal and the bottom leaves are removed. I press the holly sprigs into the wreath in relation to the 5 main flowers now, emphasising the design.
Another of my favourite additions to fresh native wreaths are gum nuts. These are dried ones that I have left over from projects through the year. They have short stems so are suited to wreaths. Again, once those 5 main flowers have gone in, everything that is added has to be in harmony with them. I add the gum nuts in between each flower. I find that sprinkling them is better than placing them too neatly, because they look more natural.
In the above picture, you can also see a white rice-flower like bloom. These are a native that grow wild on my farm and flower in summer. I have a few different varieties, commonly known as Dolly Bush. I am unsure if they are a Cassinia or an Ozothamnus - I think there is an overlapping there. But if they are picked at exactly the right time, the lovely bright flower heads don't droop and and really useful to brighten up summer arrangements. You can see a gap on the wreath where the floral foam is showing. Dolly Bush is one of the things I've used to fill in these gaps. More little sprigs of foliage are good too.
Another of the final touches is to add Leucadendron Jubilee Crown. These are often called "Christmas Cones" and look particularly festive. The cheery red cones are great little highlights that add an extra dimension to the wreath. Again, I remove all the fine needle-like leaves and cut the stems sharply before sprinkling them throughout the wreath.
Eventually, all the gaps are filled and the highlights are added. I stand back and make sure the wreath is looking balanced.
These wreaths are lovely addition to a festive table. Add a nice fat candle to the centre and use them as a table centrepiece. If you remember to add a little water each day, the wreath will outlast even the typical Christmas leftovers of ham and turkey!
I hope you all had a happy Christmas season and wish you all the best for a productive and happy New Year, with plenty of time to seek out the beauty in each day. Thanks so much for all your support and kind comments throughout the year.