‘The Florist That Teaches’, Julie Davies, arrives with a Christmas Wreath (‘one I made earlier’) and confidently promises that creating something equally beautiful is well within our grasp. Julie says: ‘All you need is a walk in the countryside or around the garden to collect your greenery, a reel of florist’s mossing or binding wire and a coat hanger, the wire sort you get free from the dry cleaners.’
Having assembled our greenery, the next step is to cut it into manageable lengths. Julie says: ‘This is quite a delicate wreath so keep your lengths short and discard anything thick and woody.’
Now we bend the coat hanger into a circle with the hook at the top. ‘You can also make a square or diamond shape,’ says Julie. Then attach the wire to the top of the wreath.
Lay your lengths of greenery on the coat hanger, winding the mossing wire round the stalks to hold them in place. As you work, lay each new section of greenery over the last to hide the stalk and wire, and keep your mossing wire taut to keep it all in place.
Julie says: ‘If we were making an opulent wreath, we would attach the greenery in a sort of herringbone pattern so it sticks out on the outside and inside of the circle as well as along the wire of the coat hanger. But as this is a delicate wreath, we are just laying it to follow the curve of the coat hanger and cover the wire.’
When you come full circle, lift the overlapping piece of greenery you started with to hide the stalk and wire of the last. Tuck in the tail of wire at the back of the wreath.
‘At this point,’ says Julie, ‘I shake the wreath to make sure nothing’s going to fall off. Remember it’s going to hang on your front door which will be rattling the wreath each time it opens and closes.’
For this wreath, Julie used just ivy and cedar because that’s what she found in the garden, but there are many other evergreens which are just as effective. Julie’s favourite is Viburnum tinus when its flower buds are still tightly closed and flushed with pink. She also recommends skimmia, yew, holly without prickles and bay. ‘The plants you choose need to be robust; the wreath is going to be hanging on your door without any water for a couple of weeks. Some evergreens like eucalyptus and rosemary fade too fast in these conditions, drying up and losing their leaves.’
Julie also recommends using fake berries on wire as real berries tend to go mushy fast. Be wary though if your door is unsheltered; some fake berries don’t stand up to a drenching.
And you don’t have to stick to evergreens. See Julie’s work on The Middle-sized Garden blog post this Sunday, 11 December, when she creates a twig wreath using pliable birch twigs. Julie also likes to use sticky buds, poppy seedheads and twigs mottled with brilliant orange and golden lichens. She says: ‘Try anything you like. If it doesn’t work, just undo the wire and try something else.’
Once your basic wreath is made, you can stop there, or you can start adorning it. In fact at this point you can indulge any whim or fancy – feathers, tinsel, raffia, Christmas baubles, fake birds. Just bear in mind how much shelter it will have.
If you don’t like the coat hanger hook showing, you can wrap it in ribbon or make an enormous bow to conceal it.
Julie used a red ribbon detailed with gold swirls and wired along its length to hold it in position and stop it drooping sadly in showers. Remember this, if you are tempted by a big velvet bow.
When you have created your marvellous and unique wreath, post it on Julie’s Facebook page. She is offering a free 4-week online floristry course to the creator of the wreath she picks as the winner.
Text: Posy. Photography and video: Lisa