It’s the most wonderful time of the year and we are in the midst of what I call silly season, otherwise known as wreath workshop season.
This year we’ve hosted 9 classes, some in private homes and the rest either at the shop or in Quainton where Signature Flowers was born! That’s over 100 people going home with a gorgeous handmade wreath which we teach them to make from scratch.
The classes on average are 8 – 10 people and that means we use a lot of foliage! This is on top of what we have for all our everyday orders in the shop.
As well as buying in foliage at this time of year, I love nothing more than finishing at the shop a bit early; before it gets dark, throwing on my big coat and my wellingtons and going round the fields near my home foraging.
On the nursery where I grew up I always stock up on:
Berried Ivy (Hedera Helix)
I love the texture that the berries of the ivy give at this time of year – little bundles of jet black beads that set against lush green foliage create the best contrast.
Bay (Laurus nobilis)
An evergreen shrub that has a gorgeous fragrance (not only for cooking) but in your festive arrangements too. A flat ‘leaf’ shaped leaf in a rich, traditional green that gives a really nice matt colour in the wreath.
We use a lot of cupressus varieties throughout December, as they all add something a little different depending on what we are making, or the colour scheme of the wreath being made. It comes in shades of greens, but encompasses yellows, golds, silvers and greys too! The variety chosen depends on the job in hand! It is very flat but placed close to the moss and left slightly longer than other foliages gives it a really nice soft edge.
Around the nursery I am also able to collect teasels, dried cow parsley heads and catkins. These all add great textures and colours to the wreaths. My favourite wreath decorating are the more natural ones! Though I love the smell of a wreath covered in cinnamon and oranges too!
If you are foraging off your own land then great BUT please make sure if you are on someone else’s land, you have asked the landowner for permission to cut from their ground. And don’t forget your gloves! The best ivy is always behind brambles, and the teasels although beautiful are prickly little things!
We buy in our seasonal favourites; eucalyptus – at this time of year there are lots of gorgeous varieties but for our wreaths we always recommend; Eucalyptus Cinerea and Eucalyptus Populous with its gorgeous berries in shades of grey-green and copper, we love nobilis pine – the foliage most associated with wreath making I think!
Finally there’s holly! This is purchased for us from the Christmas auctions in Tenbury Wells, by my parents, who visit regularly in the lead up to Christmas. Now I’m not a huge fan of holly in wreaths – going against the grain I know! But it’s prickly it hurts my hands and they end up hurting enough by the end of December without using it! So we more often see this for people to decorate mantel pieces, pictures etc.
We’d love to see what you create with foliage this year! Please feel free to share in the comments section below.
Have a great weekend.