Christmas Wreaths are an annual labour of love for all florists. Each year, from the start of November onwards, Social Media is rife with florist chat about ‘this year’s trends’, the amazing smell of spruce … that soon becomes blue spruce overload, resin-stained fingers and the best gloves/hand-creams to use! However, there is magic in the fact that we are well into the spirit of Christmas by the time that December 25th arrives and we get to create a lasting and beautiful adornment to welcome visitors to a Christmas home.
This year, I saw a swing to a much more natural design of wreath. Customers who wanted a touch of bling went down the copper, gold and rusty metal colour palette – my favourite combination of autumnal/winter colours . The backs of the evergreen Magnolia grandiflora leaves have a beautiful soft, coppery colour and these were used as the base of many of the wreaths. Decoration was added with the traditional cones, seed heads and the odd pheasant feather but – despite a splash of gold and copper spray – the wreaths still looked fairly natural and had the essence of winter. Red and green as combinations were not seen in any of my wreaths this year and the holly shrubs around the Studio were left totally in tact for the first time in years! Baubles and tinsel have their place but they do not sit comfortably – I’m afraid – in my Studio! The word ‘wreath’ comes from the word ‘writhen’ which means to twist and hence … the circular shape. This shape and the use of evergreens was meant to symbolise continuity and the circle of life. Evergreens were traditionally used because of their persistence and endurance during the winter months and their strength against the harsh winter season.
My philosophy in the Floral Design Studio is to bring the outside in; to bring the garden’s essence into the house or venue. Therefore it seems fitting that the Christmas wreaths are – in reality – winter wreaths. We celebrate all that is beautiful in the outside during November and December and bring these together to form an arranged and stylised symbol and celebration of the outdoors. There is nothing to say that the wreaths must just last for the Christmas period. Winter wreaths can encompass the spirit and the beauty of the outside for longer than simply this holiday celebration.
The wreaths that I most enjoyed making this year were these totally natural arrangements. Taking inspiration from the British countryside and garden in winter, I tried to re-create the essence of this barren, frost-covered, skeletal landscape in my wreaths. The winter palette is – by necessity – light on flowers and colour and those that are used are muted and subtle. Texture is more important than at any time of the year and the mix of seed heads, lichen-covered twigs, twisted, ‘dying’ perennials and spent flowers formed the basis of my creations.
Winter in the garden is the time of year when the ‘bones’ and layout of the space is at its most obvious. From a garden designer’s point of view, this is when you see whether the routes, views and divisions within the layout, actually hold together and form the base onto which the ‘decoration’ of plants and herbaceous material sits in the other seasons. The spent herbaceous material and the twiggy trees and shrubs form a picture that is beautiful in its ability to hold the eye and create interest in its most pared-back state. The winter wreath celebrates this period and collects together the essence of the winter wonderland. In a similar way, the wreath can still look beautiful without a dense surface of leaves and foliage and it needn’t be covered with flowers and berries to work. Instead it can represent the bare bones of nature; it can represent winter in its most raw state.
The photographs below show sources of inspiration and some detail of the wreaths that were particularly favoured this Winter.