What could be better than a magnificent timber front door, adorned with a wreath you’ve created yourself? Our favourite florist Debbie Sharpe of The Flower Room Essex shares her essential tips for making your festive wreath.
There are many types of decorations associated with the festive season, and the wreath has maintained its popularity for hundreds of years. Originating as a folk practice in Germany, people would make evergreen wreaths as a symbol of continued life during the darkest, coldest months of winter.
Wreaths also look lovely as a table decoration which fills your home with the smell of pine. Traditionally, these would have been arranged with candles and were known as an Advent Wreath. Pine slowly releases sap, so an Advent Wreath will fill your house with that festive fragrance that you might be missing miss if you have opted for a faux Christmas tree. Place a hurricane lamp and church candle in the centre to finish off the look.
Make sure your front door is festively adorned this Christmas and make your own festive wreath. We speak to Debbie Sharpe from The Flower Room Essex, who runs wreath-making workshops each year, to see if she could share any useful tips.
Relax and have fun – this is about being creative!
‘Sometimes people can put too much pressure on themselves to create a perfect wreath. At the beginning of my wreath-making workshops, I will give everyone the same materials, but no two wreaths ever look the same. Some people make elegant and orderly wreaths, while others like to go freestyle. A wreath you have created yourself reflects your tastes and creativity, and this is what makes them so special.’
‘Also, be aware of the mental health benefits that come from doing something creative. After the year we’ve had, we are all in need of a bit of quiet time and with the scent of cut pine in the air, the process can be very relaxing. Many of my students will start the workshops saying, ‘I’ve never made a wreath before, but I’ve always really wanted to’ and they are the best students to have because you see them having so much fun. It’s surprising to see how many people feel like they can’t make a wreath because they are not creative but remember, it’s supposed to be fun. It doesn’t have to be perfect; it’s all about enjoying yourself and making something you can proudly display on your front door at home.’
Always use a combination of green and blue pine.
‘If you’re making a wreath, you want to mix up your foliage with a combination of green and blue pine. I always like to mix the pine with rosemary, bay or holly to give a pleasant fragrance and textural interest. These are great to use, as they usually last as long as the pine foliage. Some of my clients have reported that their wreaths last through to March. A lot of people commonly choose eucalyptus leaves in their wreath, but this only lasts a couple of weeks, and then you have to remove the unsightly dead twigs.’
Think about using different shapes.
‘Heart-shaped wreaths are very popular this year, and while a round shape will always be an absolute classic, it’s nice to have a change now and then. When you are constructing your round wreath, you want to add your foliage by working around in the same direction.
With a heart, you start from the bottom point and go up to the top on one side, and then again on the other side. This method ensures that you are always covering up the same placements, and you won’t have any gaps.’
To adorn or not to adorn? What’s the best approach when it comes to decorations?
‘Less is sometimes more! Sometimes it is easy to get carried away with the decorations, but the key to making a wreath is to get the combination of foliage right and to stop and step away from the workbench when your creation is finished. Most people will either go for very natural adornments, such as dried orange and lime slices or apple slices, cinnamon sticks, pinecones, nuts and dried chillies. Others will go for full-on festive glitz, with brightly coloured baubles, glittery bows, little stars and even small lights. I’ve seen people use corks from a wine bottle which helps take the wreath through to the New Year celebrations, and some mothers with young children like to stick to a theme such as a favourite Christmas movie or toy. Try to tie your wreath’s decorations in with the colour of your front door and your home’s interiors.’
Learn a skill that you can use all year round.
‘Once you’ve mastered the art of wreath making you can make your own at home, any time of the year. Easter or for Spring wreaths are becoming popular, for example. If you’re looking to join a wreath making class, make sure you look for something that’s longer than three hours long so you can get to make it from scratch. Plenty of courses will provide you with a ready-made wreath, and all you have to do is add decorations. But if you’ve learnt how to do it yourself all year round, then that gives you more creative freedom with the technique. Having half the copper wire hoop exposed makes for a trendy look, or you could use twigs instead of foliage for a rustic cottage style. The possibilities are endless!’
Debbie is an acclaimed florist and was part of the team who made the bouquets for the 2012 London Olympics – she’s even made a poesy for a member of the royal family! Debbie runs seasonal workshops throughout the year. Her Ascot Hat Box class in June and Halloween Pumpkin class in October are always popular. Follow Debbie on Instagram for more information.