This welcoming tradition has its origins in the ancient Persian Empire, where these circlets were worn as a ‘crown.” As time went on they developed into the familiar form we hang on our doors and walls today. Occasionally cars, trucks, pets and flower girls still wear these joyous floral creations. History and tradition aside, the fragrance of fresh evergreens alone can lift our spirits and set the stage for a festive season.
Creating a fresh holiday wreath is not as difficult as you might think. The ingredients are simple for a basic wreath. Most supplies can be purchased at a local crafts store. A few tools are needed as well, which can usually be found in the toolbox or garage.
Tools required: Pruning shears, wire cutters, pliers, gloves (recommended)
Materials: Metal wreath form (double rail, enameled is best, 22-gauge paddle wire, 2 rolls evergreen boughs; Princess pine, Noble Fir, White Fir, Douglas Fir, Cedar, Redwood, etc.
Trim materials; Ribbon, ornaments, lights, grapevine, pomegranate, magnolia and willow leaves, fresh flowers, etc.
It takes a LOT of greenery to make a full wreath, so be sure that you have enough before you start. Greens can be found locally and in the surrounding areas, but be sure you have the proper permits and permissions before you cut them. If you get a fresh tree, be sure to save any branches you cut, and ask friends and relatives for theirs.
The secret to a full and beautiful evergreen wreath is in the bundles. Yes, bundles. Lots, and lots of them. To make a bundle, take a large handful of mixed greens that have been cut into smaller stems in one hand, lining up the cut ends. Wrap the cut ends tightly together with paddle wire, then cut and twist the ends of the paddle wire to secure the bundle. Once you have made about 25-30 of these bundles (for a 24-inch wreath form), you are ready to attach them to the form.
Lay your first bundle on the front of the wreath form and secure it to the form with paddle wire. Wrap the wire tightly around the form and bundle several times, but do not cut the wire. Your next bundle lays on top of the first one, overlapping it about halfway. Repeat the process, continuing around the ring until you are back where you began. Then simply thread the wire back through the last bundle a couple of times, tug it for security, cut it off and twist the ends.
You should now have a beautiful, fresh evergreen wreath that is ready to adorn with your favorite trim. For this, I like natural elements like grapevine, pomegranates, magnolia leaves and curly willow for a woodsy effect. If you prefer a more traditional look, colorful and elegant ribbon, ornaments and lights should do the trick. To add fresh flowers, such as amaryllis, poinsettias or roses to your wreath, place them in water tubes and wire the tubes into the wreath. Be sure to check the water level every other day, as flowers can be thirsty!
If you would like a visual review of this lesson, click on the video of this year’s wreath-making class at Turtle Bay. It is in two parts, Part 1 and Part 2. For classes on floral design, check the City of Redding Parks and Recreation Activity Guide (page 24.) Also, keep watching aNewsCafe.com for my columns on seasonal and special interest topics relating to floral design.
May your life be filled with beauty and flowers.
Darlene Storms-Montgomery MFC CCF, is a native of Redding and has worked in the world of flowers professionally for more than 30 years. She has owned her own flower shop (Victorian Rose Florist) and can be found these days managing the Safeway Floral Department on Pine Street. Her greatest passion is teaching floral design. Her classes can be taken at Shasta College or the City of Redding.
Recently, Darlene became a certified florist though the California State Floral Association, and is a Master Floral Instructor at Shasta College. She and her husband James play music with the folk-rock group, the Prima Donna Bongo Band … but that’s another story altogether.