Make Your Own Everlasting Wreath
Our wreath workshops at the Thanksgiving open house were so much fun. We taught participants how to dress up a plain evergreen wreath with living plants, both succulents and tillandsias. I love this project because the evergreen wreath, to me, is so evocative and nostalgic… the smell of it, and the textures, and the layers of green. But the succulents and tillandsias add an interesting sculptural edge, and after all, winter gardens in our area are often full of colorful succulents, not just the green conifers that thrive elsewhere in the colder months. When your wreath is past its prime, you can remove the succulents and plant them in your garden, and bring the tillandsias inside (care instructions later in the post). So you’re getting a wreath and a little garden all in one.
Get this: we made a lot of wreaths like the sample below, each of them unique, but we’ve also set up a little DIY station at the store where you can come in and make one of these wreaths yourself. If you’ve got some time this weekend, come on in, get your coffee or hot chocolate and set yourself up with a wreath and some plants. We’ll have all the supplies you need, so you can bring them home instead if you’re so inclined. Scroll down for some basic steps and instructions to follow (adapted from a post I did about this on Apartment Therapy).
Once you’ve got your wreath base and a few simple supplies, it couldn’t be easier to dress up your wreath for the season. You’ll want to start with a bunch of the little wooden wonders called “wired picks” (pictured above). This is basically a thick toothpick (or a miniature wooden stake, like the kind you’d use to kill a vampire) with a length of wire attached to it at the top. We’re selling them along with the wreath bases at the store; you can also find wired picks at any craft store.
Essentially all you’ll need to do is lay the stem of whatever material you’re working with flush along the length of the pick and wrap the wire around it. If you need a bit of extra support to keep your stems from breaking, use some floral tape wrapped around both stem and pick.
Then insert the pointed end of the pick into the bundled greens at the center of the wreath. If you look at the back of your wreath, you’ll see that most likely it’s wired onto a frame; you want to aim to place your pick in the center of that frame. If it’s too tightly bundled and the pick won’t go all the way in, try pushing it straight down (again, vampire-killing style) instead of at an angle, or just get it wedged in the best you can, even if it’s not between the wires. You’ll find that with lighter plants and cut material, the picks won’t budge even if they’re not placed exactly in the bundle.
I use the picks for my tillandsias too, bending back a few of the lower leaves and sort of bundling them with the roots around the pick. You can do the same with little clumps of moss, or pretty much anything else you can think of. (Sometimes with moss you don’t need a pick at all; it will suffice to just wedge the clumps in among the greens.)
Tillandsias are air plants (their roots grow in the air), and while they don’t like cold weather, they make great houseplants anywhere at all. Remove them from your wreath at the end of the season and place them around your home in little dishes or vases; a weekly mist of water and some nice indirect bright light is all they need.
If you’re using succulent cuttings, you might find that some plants are too heavy to attach to the wired picks. Try some thick-gauge wire instead, inserting the wire directly into the stem of the plant. I prep my succulents by removing all of the soil and thread-like roots, leaving only the stem behind. After the holidays you can plant your succulent cuttings again in the garden or in a pot, just tucked into a bit of soil, where they’ll happily take root.
The thick-gauge wire will be even easier to insert into your bundle of evergreens. Again, use floral tape wrapped around the stem and wire if you’re finding that your stem breaks easily. When you’re finished with your design, lift up your wreath and use a wire cutter to trim any pointy ends of the wire or wooden picks that are sticking out of the back of the wreath.
Here’s one of our fabulous workshop participants with her wreath. Isn’t it gorgeous? I like the look of a wreath with a cluster of decoration in one spot, leaving nice stretches of simple greens. But you can design your dressed-up wreath however you like. Consider using cut materials that dry well (like the pepper berries and moss we used in the workshop) to complement your living plant choices.
This is Patrick; some of you may have met him on the sales floor at the store, but you probably didn’t know he’s also a floral design genius, having run his own shop in L.A. for many years. He and I taught the wreath workshop together, and he’s the man to look for if you’re in the store this weekend and need a little guidance with your wreath.
Have fun, and happy holidays!