Winter Floral Wreaths
We are so grateful for Krystal Snyder, West Ward resident, Penn State extension educator, and small business owner of Branch & Vine, to lead this festive workshop on DIY wreaths.
Not only is this a way to use greens that may have been discarded from trees, but it’s a fun craft to showcase your gardens’ mementos and locally foraged flair. Making wreaths is not easy work in large quantities. Purchasing items like these or other value-added products from local farmers is a way to support them in the off season. Our local food system is important!
- Floral garden metal wreath form (14.25″).
- 22-gauge wire, preferable dark green. Half a spool should work for one wreath.
- Scissors or trimmers that can cut through small branches and metal wire.
- Variety of winter greens (branches from pine trees, juniper, holly, etc.) 6 – 8 branches per wreath.
- Dried flowers and items from your garden (see bottom of this blog post for suggestions).
- Dried items you foraged locally (e.g. pinecones, bittersweet, etc. – see below for more).
- Hot glue gun and glue or other ways to attach your decorations.
- Ribbons and other decorations of your choice.
1. Use a variety of textures and types of greens. This could include using different types for the aromas as well. Snip branches into shorter lengths with enough needles/greens to avoid looking sparse. Krystal suggests the snippings should be about the length of your hand.
2. Bundle the pieces into a small bouquet of about 6, and use the wire to wrap around the base of the bundle three times to attach it to the wreath wring. You should pull it very tight, almost to the point of bending the ring.
3. Do not cut the wire. Instead, you will put another “bouquet” together and lay it overtop of the first bundle. Your second bundle/bouquet should cover the wires holding the first one. Krystal says the trick is to “always hide the mechanics.”
4. When you’re making your bouquets, you can work in different greens and reeds for variety. Eucalyptus, juniper, holly, and anything with a long stem can work. Smaller decorations like pinecones and dried flowers (see below) should be used to decorate the wreath after all greens are attached.
5. Use the wire and wrap it twice around the base of your second bundle. You will continue making bouquets/bundles of greens and attaching them with the wire around the length of the whole circle. It should take around 10 bundles total to cover your wreath ring.
6. Once you have gone around the full ring, adjust the last bundle overtop of the first cleverly to cover all the wires. If it leaves off at an awkward place, you can always use a bow or other decorations to tie it all together.
7. Finally, start using your dried flowers, dehydrated citrus, foraged pinecones and forest finds, bittersweet, ribbons, etc. to decorate the wreath. You can use hot glue guns, or tie them in individually. We hope that this DIY wreath project inspires you to use your own gardens’ flowers, harvest “weeds”, repurpose your decorations and natural garden items into a gift for you and your loved ones.
Dried flowers & tips for foraged decor:
1. For flowers, we grew craspedia (“sun balls”), yarrow, celosia, giant allium, lavender, ornamental onions and more specifically this year because they dry well. Like in our herb drying lesson in August at the West Ward Market, we strung bundle of the flowers upside down for several weeks to dry them completely. Certain flowers (like the sun balls and celosia) dry really well and keep their color! Don’t forget herbs – rosemary looked and smelled lovely in the wreaths.
2. We saved plant parts that typically would be composted, simply because they can be pretty too. We kept the tops of corn stalks, okra pods that had dried on the stem, sedum that dried at the end of the season, and a few milkweed pods. You can be creative and use what you have. Even branches or brambles you’re pruning for winter will work. Some of the winter rye cover crop that we left to dry earlier in the year looked so pretty and golden.
3. We foraged for some classic items, like pinecones, but also for less traditional pieces. Make sure to go out when it’s sunny and has been dry for a few days… otherwise you might bring home something wet which can go moldy. We gathered thistle (ouch – wear gloves), different reeds and weeds, bittersweet, beautyberry, and more.
4. If you’re feeling extra festive, you can dab craft glue onto your pinecones or other hardy plants and sprinkle with kosher salt for a natural snowy look.
5. Take a look in your kitchen and local shops. Cinnamon sticks were fun to incorporate in our wreaths. We also purchased organic citrus fruits from the Highmark Farmstand and used a food dehydrator to make dried orange, lemon, and lime slices.