A Wreath That Shakespeare Wrote

How to make an everlasting dried flower and herb wreath.


| April/May 1995



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The plants that play a role in Shakespeare’s works include a number of herbs and flowers that dry easily and retain their color and shape: bay laurel, lavender, marjoram, oregano, poppy, rose, rue, sea holly, and wormwood. We’ve devised this elegant small wreath of everlastings as a fitting tribute to the Bard’s mastery of garden imagery. You may wish to make one for a favorite English literature teacher, an aspiring actor, or a friend who loves Shakespeare. You can pick and dry materials from your own garden or purchase them from a craft store.

Materials

  • About 15 freshly cut wormwood stems, each 20 inches long
  • Brown floral tape, available in craft or florist supply stores
  • Brown floral wire in two sizes: 20 and 24 gauge
  • Craft scissors
  • Assorted dried herbs and flowers: bay laurel, lavender, marjoram, oregano, poppy, rose, sea holly, and/or rue

Our Shakespearean wreath is made from a base of wormwood (Artemisia absinthium). Other artemisias, such as Silver King (A. ludoviciana cv.) and mugwort (A. vulgaris), would work as well, but wormwood is the only artemisia Shakespeare mentions specifically. For the wreath base, it is important to use fresh materials because dried wormwood becomes too brittle to bend. If you harvest the wormwood in late summer or early autumn, you’ll have its tiny flowers as a bonus.

The wreath base is 1 1/2 inches thick and forms a circle 5 inches in diameter. For a different-size wreath, you would start with stems that are about four times longer than the desired diameter of the wreath.

Bend a wormwood stem into a circle, with the tip end overlapping the butt end by 6 to 8 inches (Figure 1). Wrap the overlapping tip around the butt end in a spiral to secure it, then spiral a second stem completely around the circular form of the first one. Don’t be concerned if the butts protrude at this stage. Continue wrapping wormwood stems, one at a time, around the circular base until your wreath is as thick as you like (Figure 2). As you add new stems, adjust the shape so that it remains symmetrical. For instance, if one section of the wreath base looks a little thinner than the rest, wrap a wormwood stem around that section only. Leave the tips of the last few stems projecting outward to give your wreath a graceful sweeping shape. Finish the wreath base by trimming off the protruding butts. Figure 3 shows the finished base. Let it dry for several days before continuing. You can add the dried herbs and flowers at any time after that.

When you are ready to decorate your wreath base, assemble a selection of dried herbs and flowers.

The first step is to attach the flowers and sprigs of herbs to false stems of floral wire with the floral tape. Wrap a single large flower, such as a rose, onto a false stem by itself; wrap small bunches of small flowers (of the same type or of different types) onto a single false stem and treat each bunch as a single unit. Use the thicker floral wire to make stems for large flowers or bunches of flowers, and the thinner wire for smaller flowers.





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