With its vivid hues and brilliant shades of amber, crimson and clementine, fall is arguably the showiest, most colorful season of the year, topping even the soft pastels of spring.
“It’s like capturing a sunset on every leaf you see,” is how one young friend described it.
One of the ways to extend the season just a little longer is to hang an autumn wreath, full of the flora and flowers giving a last hurrah.
Many area garden centers will have natural wreaths for sale. At Valley Gardens, designer Chris Higgins will show you how to make your own.
“I started making wreaths 20 years ago,” he said.
“It’s not hard, but there are some little tricks that make it easier,” he added.
Higgins will lead a series of holiday wreath-making workshops on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Those will have a decidedly holiday look.
If you’d like something more seasonal now, though, he’s shared his step-by-step details.
The tools you’ll need are basic — a 12-inch wire wreath form, 22-gauge paddle wire, and wire-cutting pliers.
Two things to know about this simple list: The size of the wreath form doesn’t determine the size of your finished wreath — with a 12-inch form, your final product can still be quite large — and, Higgins said, don’t deviate from the 22-gauge wire.
“The most important thing, almost, is the wire,” he said. The 22-gauge is “pliable but tough. When you wrap your material with a lighter wire it, it will spring up the second you release it.”
A thicker wire is harder to work with, he said, and not necessary.
The plant materials you’ll need are basic, too. Some of them you might find in your own yard, or waving from the side of the road.
“There are two kinds of material you use with any kind of wreath,” said Higgins. “There’s the back-end stuff, the cheap stuff that will fill in the gaps and go behind the sexier stuff.”
For his filler material, Higgins chose miscanthus and Karl Foerster grass, but he said any kind of ornamental grass would work.
For his sexier materials, Higgins chose natural items that retain some natural color and dry well: several different kinds of hydrangeas, purple beautyberry, echinacea, sunflower heads and — what he called “two of the worst, weediest vines in the neighborhood” — American bittersweet and porcelain-berry. Both are invasive and generally unwelcome but easy to find.
Gather your tools and supplies, and get started following the step-by-step instructions here.
For more information on the holiday wreath-making workshop in November, visit the Valley Gardens Facebook page, visit their website at valleygardenswv.com or call 304-342-4636.
- 12-inch wire wreath form
- 22-gauge paddle wire
- wire-cutting pliers
- ornamental grasses
- natural materials of your choice, with leaves stripped off
Anchor one end of your 22-gauge wire to the wire wreath form, twisting it around a cross bar so the wire won’t move or slide along the form. Twist the wire multiple times to secure it to the form.
Select a large handful of ornamental grass or “back-end filler” material. Select shorter “show” material and fashion a bouquet in one hand with the filler material in back and the show material in front. Clip ends as needed so the end of your bouquet is even.
Hold your bouquet on the wreath form and wrap the wire around it three or four times, pulling tightly to secure. The bouquet should stay in place when you remove your hand.
Make another bouquet and place it several inches below the bottom of your first bouquet. Wrap it with the paddle wire three or four times and pull tightly to secure.
Continue making bouquets and securing them around your wreath form, pulling the wire tightly each time. Vary your show material as needed.
When the wreath form is fully covered, wrap the wire several more times, pull tightly and secure to the wire form, then cut and tuck the end into your wreath.
Step back and examine your wreath with a critical eye: are there gaps that need to be filled? Weave extra material into the gaps as needed and secure with the wire.
Turn the wreath over and cut any material that is bulky, so the wreath can hang flush against a wall or door.
Hang with a metal wreath hanger or sturdy ribbon.Reach Maria Young at firstname.lastname@example.org, 304-348-5115 or follow @mariapyoung on Twitter.