Preserve your Garden’s Beauty

Capture the essence of your garden in fresh or dried wreaths for lasting beauty.


| August/September 2005



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I’ve often admired the dried wreaths adorning the doors of friends and neighbors, but I’d never ventured to make my own until I saw the one Betsy Williams made for the herbal wedding story in our March 2001 issue. Once I realized how fun and relatively simple they can be — or complex, if that’s your preference — I vowed to make one at the end of each summer with my favorite herbs from that year’s garden. If you don’t have everything you need in the garden, a trip to your local florist or craft store will fill in the gaps. (And for those of you not up to the task, suggestions for purchasing pre-made herbal wreaths can be found on Page 31).

FRESH VS. DRIED

When it comes to choosing fresh or dried botanicals, let the look be your guide. While it’s easy to clip small, fresh bouquets from the garden, arrange and wire them to a wreath form and hang it right away, remember that when they dry, they’ll curl and form to the angle at which they are hanging. This is fine for some botanicals — a few curled sage leaves dispersed among stiffer flowers and stems will be fine — but if you use a plethora of fresh sage leaves as your backdrop mixed with roses, you’ll likely have a droopy mess of a wreath on your hands when the herbs dry. Fresh herbs and flowers, however, do have their place (see “Fresh Centerpiece” directions on Page 31). Whether you choose to use fresh, dried or a combination thereof, make sure you have some variety of leaf shapes, sizes and colors.

A GLANCE AT DRYING BOTANICALS

To dry your herbs, secure bunches with a rubber band about 1 inch from the bottom of the stems, and hang them upside down in a cool, dark and dry place. (See Page 36 for more details on drying herbs.) I usually hang bunches of each herb together and then gamble with separating them and loosening some leaves when wreath-making time arrives. Alternately, if you have enough space and want to preserve the entire stem with leaves intact, hang each sprig individually from clothespins on a line of wire or string, leaving plenty of space to prevent them from touching or sticking together while drying.

No matter how you begin to tackle this project, collect more botanicals than you think you’ll need so you have plenty on hand to fill in any gaps as you complete your wreath.

CHOOSING A FORM

Several types of wreath forms are available in the floral section of craft stores: wire, twig or grapevine, straw, moss-covered and foam, to name a few. Choose one based on your own style, or try them all to see which you like working with best. If you’re using a foam form, you probably won’t want any of it showing, so you’ll need plenty of flowers and leaves to fill in and cover the foam entirely. Wire forms are lightweight, but also need to be covered completely, either with botanicals or with moss or straw before you begin. I’ve made a few suggestions, ranging from simple to complex combinations, in the instructions for various types of wreaths at right. Also keep in mind whether you prefer gluing or wiring items to the form when making your selection.

OTHER MATERIALS

A glue gun is a must for most dried wreath projects. Even if you choose not to use it as the main mode of attaching botanicals, you’ll find it invaluable at some point when touching up your final wreath. Choose a low-temperature hot glue gun or cool melt glue gun for these purposes.





elderberry, echinacea, bee hive

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