I have always wanted to be one of those people who hangs a wreath on the front door. You know, like they do in the movies? We’ve always lived in the wrong place to have a wreath on the door and frankly, I’ve always been too lazy to go out and buy one. So I’m not 100% sure what got into me when I suggested a wreath making course to my sister. Thankfully, she had the same urge as I did to get all Kirstie Allsopp so there we were this afternoon; stood in a room full to the brim of women, foliage and christmas cheer.
Hestercombe is a house and gardens based just outside of Taunton in Somerset. It has a lovely garden centre/cafe (which is as far as I’d previously gone) yet it’s also got a stunning estate house and beautiful grounds. Today was a great day for showcasing it at it’s best; crisp and sunny. Unfortunately we didn’t get time to explore but I’d love to go back and wander their garden trails. Just on a warmer day… it was bloody FREEZING!
Making a wreath is actually far easier than I thought it would be. After a quick demonstration, we stumbled back to our tables and started attacking the greenery in front of us. You start by making 8-10 small bundles, approximately elbow-palm length at it’s longest and about a hands width wide. You layer nice long fronds at the back and then smaller more detailed pieces at the front. Then wrap the base of each bundle with some floristry wire, tie a little knot in it, cut the wire off and move on to the next bundle. Simple as that (HA!)
We had piles of spruce, fern, box, holly, berries, sprouting ivy and a whole heap of things I can’t remember to play with. To start with it took a long time to create the bundles from that selection. However, once we got going we quickly created the required 8-10 in order to make the wreath.
After this we picked up our wreath base. We both cheated slightly and went for a pre-made one; they take the wire base and weave it with hay to make a bigger, firmer base to build on and something to soak in water to keep the foliage hydrated. The base size really just affects the size of the hole in the middle of the wreath, it’s the length and width of your bundles that make the wreath size!
Once you have your base, you hold the first bundle against the hay so that it’s like the O of the base is rolling on the floor (the side of the bundle). Wrap it with wire, tie a few knots each time you wrap the wire round and leave the wire attached. You put the next bundle of foliage over the base of the last one and repeat. It was INCREDIBLE how quickly the wreathes started to take shape and actually look like they would be something we could hang in public.
We then added ribbon bows, wired in some orange slices, pine cones and cinnamon sticks using thicker stud wire. Just feed the wire through them and then through the wreath/hay to the back and bend the wire back in. These were the finishing touches to making the wreaths look the part and adding a hanging hook meant we were all done. Once we got home, we had to soak them in an inch of water for 2-3 hours. This allowed the hay to absorb enough water to keep it lush until 2017.
Our class took 2.5 hours and passed in a flash. I’m genuinely ridiculously impressed with what we managed to achieve as complete amateurs (and non-creative types!). I think I may have found a new tradition to go to each year… What do you think?