How to make Christmas wreaths from materials you find in your garden

If you have an hour or two to spare before the whirlwind of Christmas, there are simple ways to create your own Christmas wreath from garden sprigs, twigs and cuttings, bright berries and evergreen foliage.

Potato wreath

You can even make a wreath using a potato as the base, says Judith Blacklock, founder of The Judith Blacklock Flower School in Knightsbridge.

Keep one side of the potato clear (that’s the side which is going to be against the door) and use the other as the base for your wreath. You can use a bradawl (a small pointed tool) or a kebab stick to make the holes in the potato in which to insert the stems.

“Get some very strong stem foliage such as Abies (blue spruce), stick it in the top and bottom, one or two on each side and one in the middle, and then fill it in with whatever you’ve got available, as long as the stems are strong. Holly is another good one, as are box and pyracantha,” advises Blacklock.

Add slices of dried orange using florist’s wire to secure them, along with other bits and pieces to fill the gaps.

Impale the potato on to a nail on your door or wall to secure it, she suggests.

Money-saving tips

If you have an old wire coat hanger, pull it out into a rough circle to use as a base for your wreath, Blacklock suggests, as it only has to be a rough circle. Then gather some moss from your garden and wrap it around the metal circle with garden twine, to act as your base on which to put your foliage.

Alternatively, use a flexible climber like akebia, willow or wisteria, to create a base, making a circle out of the bendy stems and then tucking the ends in, she says.

Ivy base

Horticulturist Natalie Plumbridge, RHS dried flower and floristry specialist, starts her wreaths with a base of ivy wrapped around a metal wreath ring.

“Lots of people have a nice ground cover ivy or ivy growing up tree. Wrapping that tightly around the hoop several times helps you use less wire, because you can inset your evergreen foliage into all the curls you’ve made.

“You may just have to use a little wire at the start, wrap it around and then, in theory, you can poke in everything else between the ivy stems.”

You may have to use wire to secure heavier pieces which don’t quite fit or are being used to fill gaps, she adds.

Foliage additions

Suitable evergreen clippings to add to your wreath include holly, or any evergreen conifer such as cypress or thuja, or even cuttings from your Christmas tree if you need to trim it a bit before bringing it indoors, says Plumbridge.

Variegated foliage also add hits of yellow to a wreath. Variegated holly and variegated laurel can work well. Shrubby honeysuckle and pittosporum are also good additions, she says.

Variations in style

“Some people might like the ivy look and choose to only put only 50% coverage of evergreen foliage, so that they show off the ivy, and finish it off with berries,” says Plumbridge.

If you want a dense, full look, go for ‘buttonhole-type’ clusters of greenery with a flower at the front and secure each little posy clockwise around the wreath.

Others might just want to add evergreen or ornamental grass interest in just one corner of the wreath to make an accent, so the focus is on the wreath material such as the willow.

To do this, tie a compostable material such as raffia to the wreath base and take three to five stems, place them in the position you want them and wrap the raffia tightly around them, until you reach what you want your decoration centre to be, then mirroring that with similar stems on the other side and securing them with more raffia.

Sustainable additions

Dried flowers, dried fruits (sliced oranges will dry on a tray in an oven on a very low heat for a few hours), holly, sorbus and pyracantha berries and pine cones from local foraging can make good additions, along with cinnamon sticks, which can be clustered together lengthways in threes and tied with jute, before attaching to the wreath.

“Normally I will harvest hydrangea from the garden here (RHS Garden Wisley) and dry it,” says Plumbridge. “I use them in the wreaths at Wisley, which have to last from mid-November until January.”

Hydrangea flowers can be cut in the autumn to whatever size you’ll need, by removing the foliage and hanging them upside down in a dark dry room for a couple of weeks.

Ornamental grass seed heads are in abundance at this time of year, which can be dried in an airing cupboard or a dark, dry room, which are fine to add if you are hanging your wreath in a porch area or somewhere sheltered from the rain. Pampas grass, miscanthus and pennisetum all work well in wreaths.

You may need to refresh

Have some spare sprigs handy because you may need to refresh your wreath if you put it up at the beginning of December and have guests arriving on New Year’s Eve, Plumbridge advises.