Surrounded by forest, I was inspired this fall to start making wreaths from foraged materials. As an artist, it's another amazing medium to work in. I hope to sharpen my skills enough to start designing floral arrangements for my Mom's flower farm next year, Dutch Girl Peonies.
As an eco entrepreneur, I am really intrigued with the idea of using only found materials on hand. Of course, I purchased string to tie everything together, but it too is 100% biodegradable sisal. This makes my wreath entirely compostable.
The thing that surprised me the most, though, was just how many beautiful items I was able to find during this dormant season. I can't wait to see what I discover in the spring when everything starts blooming again.
To start, I gathered willow branches. Most were found under the many willow trees in my yard and upper garden. I will admit, I cut some fresh branches too. These willows were grown by my specifically for the purpose of making baskets and furniture. Their branches are straight and pliable. The trees were actually in need of pruning.
Next I started tying them together is the desired shapes and sizes. I offset a few branches at a time and wrapped them in overlapping string to hold them together. I made different sized circles and tear drop shapes. I let them dry for a few days making sure they would hold their shape before I started adding the greenery.
First, I added pine. I have a large Whitebark Pine in my yard. It's actually a shrub and is considered a wildfire hazard so I didn't feel bad about taking a lot of cuttings. We have been advised to cut it right back in the spring. Perhaps you can find a similar pine in your yard.
Then I added the intricate foliage of both Cedar and Hemlock. Most of the branches, I was able to gather from the road. They had fallen off in a wind storm. There is an abundance of both trees on our property. Cedar in particular loves the moist soils of our temperate interior rainforest climate. The delicate needles of the Hemlock closely resemble the needles on the trees of the great Redwood, although they're not directly related.
Then, I started adding finer detail. When I really started looking, I was surprised by all the different kinds of dried flowers and seed pods I found on my walks in the forest.
Every morning I walk the same 4 km route with my Dad. He is 76 years old now but probably more fit than most half his age. I want to believe it's partly due to our daily walks.
Equipped with reusable shopping bags and hand sheers we headed out on our trail collecting whatever beautiful things we could find in the forest.
Wild Turkey Feathers
This plant grows everywhere on our property. Interestingly enough, the more predators they have eating their leaves, the more sharp points its leaves will have. The image above shows Holly with smooth leaves, likely because this plant is pretty safe in our front yard. It's now the size of a tree. But smaller bushes with sharper leaves can be found in the forest. Its probably best known for its red berries.
Many of these plants, I was able to identify with the phone app PictureThis. This phone application is easy to use but it does come at a cost, $39.99 per year. I tested it out for the 7 day trail period and decided that I'd use it enough it that it would be worth the cost.
PictureThis will not only help you identify plants in the forest but also in your yard. I discovered a variety of invasive species as well. I am finding the app very useful.
Below are some of the plants I gathered from my yard.
Yellow Flag Iris
I worked in batches attaching the greenery on all the shapes first and then adding the smaller details later.
Small round wreath with Pine, Cedar and Holly
Small teardrop wreath featuring Turkey feathers
Small teardrop wreath featuring Tree Peony seed pods
Large teardrop wreath with Pine, Cedar, Holly, Peony and Columbine
Small round wreath featuring Creambush and more
I will admit that making wreaths is a messy job once it became too cold to work outdoors. It was all easy to clean up though. I also recommend foraging for and collecting all your materials before it snows. The snow knocks down the plants making it hard to find them.
I get so much joy from making these wreaths and not just in the actual creation of them but also in the process of looking for, identifying, and collecting of the materials. I see the forest and gardens with fresh eyes. Winter is more magical than ever. I hope this blog will inspire you to do the same!
And the best part is, these wreaths make the perfect gift. Beautiful and eco-friendly. Who doesn't love receiving a handmade gift?