The rise and rise of the extra large wreath…
If you want a wreath for your wall or above your fireplace, then an extra large wreath will probably look better than the size normally used on front doors.
I’ve noticed that there’s definitely a trend towards having wreaths on walls and mantelpieces – even on the outside of houses. And they’re always much bigger than those on the front door. Not to mention significantly more expensive. Think £££ (and not necessarily the lowest end of £££ either!).
So the very creative Jane Beedle offered to show me how to make one. (You’ll have spotted her creativity in her cake baking when she was a finalist in the Great British Bake Off, although her profession is as garden designer.)
You could make this as an autumn or winter wreath, a large wreath for a wedding or another special event, or as a Christmas wreath.
It’s super-thrifty – you don’t have to buy anything except for the frame, as it’s made from garden clippings.
And when Christmas is over, you can strip the flowers and foliage off and compost them, while keeping the frame for next year. So no waste.
She’s also demonstrating How to Make a Large Wreath on The Middlesized Garden YouTube channel if you prefer video.
A frame for a large or extra large wreath
Jane started with the frame. Most standard florists wreath frames are around 10/12/14” in diameter, but a large wreath for a wall or over a fireplace needs to be bigger.
So Jane found children’s hula hoops online (diameters start at around 60cm/23”). You could go up to a diameter of 80cm for an extra large wreath.
I’ve bought a 60cm green one from Amazon for £14.99 though Jane said you could find them cheaper elsewhere. Note that links to Amazon are affiliate, which means I may get a small fee if you buy through them. It doesn’t affect the price you pay.
Hula hoops are also a bit more sturdy than wire frames – another bonus as a larger wreath will have to carry more.
And when the New Year comes, you can cut off the greenery, compost it and use the hula hoops in your fitness campaign!
Make your large wreath affordable – use garden clippings!
This is a good time of year for pruning deciduous trees and shrubs, so you can use the clippings for decorating. Jane has lime trees bordering her garden, and their twigs are pliable, so she used these for the first layer. Birch are also good.
A friend gave her some willow clippings, but these are too stiff for wreath making. However Jane has created a willow triangle with them (see the end of this post).
Twist the lime or silver birch twig clippings round the hula hoop and tie them in with garden twine. If you use a jute garden twine, then it will compost when you no longer need the wreath.
Cut off any ends that are too stiff to wind round or which stick out too much.
As you get to the second or third twig layer, you should be able to tuck the ends in instead of tying them, but don’t hesitate to tie in anything you need to.
Ivy as a second layer
By the end of the summer, huge bunches of ivy hang over walls and fences. The correct time to prune ivy is April or May, but if you have a big clump of it on a wall or fence, the winter winds can bring the whole thing down. So it’s a good time to check your ivy and thin it out. And ivy makes excellent foliage for wreaths of all kinds.
Jane cut lengths of ivy from a big chunk overhanging her wall. She poked the ends into the woven twigs, continuing to tie them in, then winding the ivy round the frame.
By the time we finished these two layers, there was hardly any visible sign of the hula hoop underneath.
Add dried flowers and berries
Jane foraged in my garden for wreath ingredients. She found crab apples, cotoneaster berries and dried hydrangea heads. The ivy also had berries.
We decided that the crab apples would probably drop off too easily (but were able to use them later in a table wreath, see the end of this post).
All hydrangea heads dry beautifully, but Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ dry on the stem, so Jane snipped half a dozen off to tie into the wreath.
She also added short cotoneaster cuttings for colour, poking the ends in.
Variations for large or smaller wreaths
Jane added some battery fairy lights with a timer which can be concealed behind the foliage. Switch them on at, for example, 4.30pm when the sun goes down in winter and they’ll switch themselves off six hours later. Then they’ll go on again at 4.30pm the following day (unless you put them on at a different time in which case you’ll alter the start time!)
Just a note about buying fairy lights for a large wreath – Jane’s lights were about the right size and were 4.5 metres long. I had some battery table lights which were shorter, which I use on our smaller door wreath. These weren’t quite long enough for a wreath this big.
And when I hunted round Amazon for fairy lights with a battery and a timer, I noticed that many of them were ten metres – too long for a wreath. These fairy lights from Koopower have 40 lights and are 5 metres long, so should be about right for a large wreath or to go inside a lantern. But definitely check the lengths when buying battery lights.
How long do these wreaths last?
Jane made this wreath about a week ago and it has been inside in a cool room, in a cool shed and also outside for a night. And it has been walked up and down the road between our houses. So it is pretty resilient.
The larger ivy leaves have drooped a bit so maybe choose smaller leaves on the ivy, but so far it’s been fine. But once you bring into a warm house it will dry out more quickly.
More Christmas decorations from the garden
There’s more here on how to make a simple twig wreath from tree clippings. Jane made a twig wreath several years ago, and it has stayed looking good. Hers is chunkier and more elaborate than the one in our tutorial, so to get that effect, keep layering extra twigs on until you get the bulk you want.
Note: crab apple seeds can be toxic to dogs. Other wreath ingredients, such as ivy, conifers and holly, can also cause stomach upsets. If, like Jane, you have puppies that clamber onto tables to try everything out with their mouths, you may need to put a table wreath away between meals.
And see it in video:
And if you are interested in hearing about Jane’s cookery workshops when they start (near Canterbury in Kent), contact her on firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Instagram as @janebbakes.
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