A Bountiful Summer Wreath

Start fresh for ­sturdy beauty.


Herbs from the garden festoon this fresh summery wreath, which can be put together in less than two hours.

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• DIY: Fresh Herb Wreath 

Late summer’s herb garden holds a profusion of colorful flowers and aromatic foliage. Before this bounty is touched by fall’s chill, wander through the garden, gather stems of your favorite herbs, and wrap them into a fresh herb wreath. The fragrance of a fresh herb wreath is intoxicating, and as it dries, the wreath subtly changes shapes and colors.

A fresh herb wreath is easy to make. Unlike its dried counterpart, a fresh wreath is made from herbs and flowers straight from the garden. Fresh flowers and leaves are easily bent and shaped as you bind them onto a wreath base. The finished wreath dries within several days, and the result is a delicate-looking but sturdy, long-lasting wreath.

A wide selection of herbs and flowers work well in a fresh wreath. Best are plants with small to medium-sized, nonfleshy leaves and small to medium-sized flowers or flower clusters. Large, flat leaves or flowers with broad, open petals just wilt and collapse, leaving the wreath with holes or dips instead of fullness. In the wreath pictured at left, I’ve used oregano, prostrate rosemary, lemon thyme, pineapple mint, fringed wormwood, anise hyssop, curly parsley, lamb’s-ears, lavender, bay leaves, and chive flowers.

I sometimes make wreaths of a single herb with leaves that are pretty or visually interesting after they dry. My favorites for this kind of wreath include garden sage, sweet woodruff, curly parsley, and pot marjoram. If you make several fresh herb wreaths at a time, you’ll have extras to offer as holiday or thank-you gifts.

When you’re ready to make fresh herb wreaths, ask a gardening friend to join you. Set out the tea tray, pick out a palette of fresh herbal flowers and leaves, and settle down for a pleasant afternoon of friendship and fragrance.

To make the wreath shown, I built the foundation out of a metal ring, newspaper, and waxed florist twine. Any rigid metal or plastic ring will do; hobby and craft stores have many different kinds and sizes. I usually use 6-inch rings, which give me a finished wreath 9 to 10 inches in diameter. I can finish a wreath of this size in less than two hours. A 12-inch wreath requires an 8-inch ring; a 14-inch wreath, a 10-inch one. Larger wreaths require proportionally more herbs and flowers and more time to complete.

Betsy Williams of Andover, Massachusetts, explores many facets of growing and enjoying herbs, including planning herbal weddings, lecturing, and writing. This wreath and many others will be featured in a new book called The Proper Season, to be published in 1997 by Prospect Hill Press in Baltimore.