Makes a 12- to 13-inch wreath
Crafting a wreath of dried herbs and flowers is a creative way to bring the color and fragrance of the garden inside for year-round enjoyment. You can decorate the sweet Annie base as shown on page 31, or select from a wide variety of other decorative everlastings and trims to achieve a look you like.
• Wire clothes hanger or wire of similar thickness (or 9-inch wire hoop from a craft store)
• Wire cutter or pliers with side cutter
• Spool of fine (20- to 30-gauge) wire, thin monofilament fishing line, or heavy-duty button and carpet thread
• White craft glue (such as Alene’s Tacky Glue)
• Spray mist bottle
• At least 6 ounces dried sweet Annie
• 6 stems each of dried German statice, yarrow, baby’s-breath, and nigella pods
• Several strawflowers
If you’d like to experiment, try other dried herb flowers such as salvia, larkspur, globe amaranth, and lavender for the decorative part of the wreath. Many kinds of herb foliage also are attractive for decoration. Ribbons, bows, raffia, and other decorative trimmings can be added for different effects.
If the dried plant materials are brittle, mist them with a water spray 5 to 10 minutes before you’re ready to use them. This will make them more pliable and less dusty to work with. Keep the mist bottle handy while you’re working with them, and mist occasionally to maintain pliability. However, don’t mist any plants that are already pliable; they probably have been treated with glycerin.
I prefer wire (here called spool wire) for binding the dried material to the hoop; you can substitute fishing line or strong thread.
If you’ve purchased a prefabricated hoop, wrap the spool wire several turns around one spot on the hoop, overlapping the turns to secure the wire, then proceed to step 1. If you’re making your own wire hoop, straighten any kinks or bends in the wire and cut it to a length of about 32 inches. Bend it into a circle about 9 inches across with about 2 inches of wire overlapping. Wrap the spool wire around the overlapped area several times, overlapping the turns of spool wire to secure it. Don’t cut the spool wire: you’ll be using it to attach the sweet Annie.
Step 1: The Base
Separate the branches of sweet Annie and mist each again with water. Select a few branches of similar appearance, break or cut them into pieces 3 to 4 inches long, and group the pieces into bunches about 4 inches across at the top. Lay one bunch on top of the hoop and secure it by wrapping the spool wire several times around the stems and hoop, about 1 inch from the stem ends. Lay another bunch on top of the first, in the same direction but offset about 11/2 inches, and secure it with a few turns of wire. Continue in this way around the hoop. When you’ve covered the entire hoop, carefully tuck one more bunch of sweet Annie under the full tips of the first and wrap it well. Cut the spool wire, leaving a few inches that can be twisted into a loop for hanging the wreath.
Step 2: Decoration
To this plain sweet Annie base, you can add a variety of other dried herb flowers or foliage. To make the wreath shown on page 31, select two similar bunches of German statice stems and lay them across the base with the stem ends overlapping. Wrap the wire snugly around the base and the middle of the statice bunches a few times to secure the ends. This decoration can be shaped and filled in with smaller pieces of German statice that can be either glued in or just poked into the base. You can add nigella pods and baby’s-breath along with the statice to give texture to the edges of the decoration.
Step 3: Accent
Select a few yarrow flower heads and cut their stems to about 1 inch long. Poke one stem through the base in the center of the German statice decoration. Set the other two yarrow heads among the German statice on either side of the center, and move them until you find good places for them. When you are satisfied with their placement, apply glue to all three yarrow stems and poke them into the base.
Step 4: Filling In
As a general rule, I recommend placing the largest elements first, saving the smallest (in this case, baby’s-breath) for last. However, any plant material can be added at any stage to fill in gaps, help define shapes, and add color. After placing the yarrow flowers in this wreath, I added touches of color by gluing strawflowers to the German statice flowers here and there. More statice, nigella pods, and baby’s-breath filled out the decorated area.
If you wish, finish the wreath with a raffia bow or ribbons, depending on the look you want. Raffia can be worked into a bow that surrounds the central yarrow flower head; ribbon wound around the base in a loose spiral adds a festive accent.
Air dry the finished wreath when it’s done, and be sure to hang this and all dried wreaths out of direct sunlight to avoid fading.
Sharon Challand and her husband, John, own Meadow Everlastings, a family business in which they grow and dry a variety of everlasting flowers and herbs on an old farmstead near Malta, Illinois.
For the rest of the original article, Annie, Sweet Annie, click here.