Paul Ingleton tells us how a group of members made beautiful Christmas wreaths to decorate their houses.
On this occasion a group of Hardy Planters took to the indoors for a change – a good job too, ‘because the weather outside was dreadful’ (excuse the misquote). We were there to construct our own Christmas wreath under the expert guidance and leadership of Simone Wilson.
The first thing we had to do was to make the basic ring to stick things on. A long table was created and, into the middle of that, was thrown what looked like half a forest floor of sphagnum moss. Don’t worry folks! We were assured that it was sustainably sourced from some Scottish loch-side. This was used to thickly cover a copper wire ring and we were shown how the professionals do this and, thus made our own versions with varying degrees of success.
Once our moss rings were approved as being adequate, another heap of material was put into the middle of the table. Our very professional leader had brought a large bag of assorted plant material, and the ‘students’ had also brought stuff from their own gardens. I have no problems cutting large quantities of a very attractive, very rampant, crinkly-leaved ivy and my bush of Ilex aquifolium ‘Ferox Argentea’ (hedgehog holly to you and me) needed pruning anyway, so in it went with all the rest. Other members contributed their own attractive foliage to give a very varied selection with, ‘Can I have some of…’ being called across the table quite a lot. We were also encouraged to keep replenishing our teas and coffees and cakes and biscuits that were so thoughtfully provided. Thanks to Ali Crayford for coordinating and providing these essential items.
We were shown how to construct small bunches of foliage and then to wire them on to build up a very convincing wreath. It’s similar to making a herbaceous border in that, throughout, you use odd numbers of threes, fives, etc, of sprigs of foliage to make the ‘natural’ look. After this came the fun bit. ‘Teacher’ had brought boxes of all the extras needed to tart up the basic foliage. Dried slices of orange, lime, lotus seed heads (plain or gold-sprayed), cinnamon sticks, baubles and various other treasures were in these boxes, and we were invited to take whatever we wanted to decorate the foliage. It was really useful to be shown how to wire and fix these. Each type needed a slightly different way of doing to get the best result. Again, these were applied asymmetrically in odd numbers.
The final choice to be made was did we want a ribbon bow (of course!) and what colour/type of ribbon did we want? Some chose tasteful ribbons, or natural hessian-looking ones – I went for the blowsy Christmas red and gold in a large size. No subtlety for me! Come the end of the morning, we had all produced very professional-looking Christmas wreaths that we were all proud to display and which, I’m sure, have enhanced our front doors over the festive season. As I write now, mine, complete with blowsy bow, is still on the front door and will remain so until the traditional take-down of decorations on Twelfth Night.