Wreath made from natural materials

How to make a Christmas wreath using natural materials

Grower and florist Charlie Ryrie demonstrates techniques for creating exquisite, natural Christmas decorations at home, using found, foraged and cut materials. Photos Andrew Montgomery

Homemade Christmas wreaths are an excellent way of avoiding buying tired decorations, being creative, and connecting with the plants in your garden in a fresh way. Here’s how to make a Christmas wreath from natural materials, giving the look of a subtle, natural bird’s nest to charm your Christmas visitors. For more ideas on how to make Christmas wreaths from other materials and Christmas decorations for your home, head to our festive hub.

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Materials and tools to make your Christmas wreath

  • Natural twine
  • 8 plain or coloured willow rods 1.2-1.5m long, freshly picked from hedgerow or garden, or soaked in water for 24 hours to make them pliable for the basis of the Christmas wreath
  • 3-5 larch (Larix decidua) stems at least 60cm, with cones
  • 3-5 alder (Alnus glutinosa) stems at least 60cm, with cones and catkins
  • Length of old man’s beard (Clematis vitalba)
  • 5 x 30-50cm pieces of curly willow (Salix x sepulcralis ‘Erythroflexuosa’) or yellow dogwood (Cornus sericea ‘Flaviramea’)
  • Ribbon or braid to finish to hang up your wreath on the door
The natural materials needed for a natural wreath

To make

1

The willow hoop basis of the Christmas wreath

A willow hoop forms the base of this Christmas wreath. The willow must be pliable so use freshly cut stems or soak dry willow in water for a day to soften it. If the willow is too dry, it will snap when you try to bend it. For a hoop that will make a wreath 20-30cm in diameter, start with a willow rod at least 1.3m long and twist it into a circle, starting from the thicker end. When you have the size you want, weave the rest of the rod in and out around the circle to hold the shape. Take a second length of willow and tuck the thick end into your frame, about 10cm on from the thicker end of the first piece. This will hold it in place while you wrap the piece around the circle of your wreath. Do this with six to eight rods until the hoop feels rigid. Finish off by tying the thinnest end around the hoop. Thick ends will stick out from the circle at various points; cut them off with sharp snips and the hoop will maintain its shape.

2

The bird’s nest wreath look

Tuck lengths of alder in and out round the hoop, then do the same with the larch. Aim for a pleasing shape; you should be able to maintain the circle for the wreath and keep everything in place by winding the stems round the willow hoop, but you may prefer to tie the alder and larch to the willow with a few short lengths of twine. Next, place a few lengths of old man’s beard around the twiggy wreath, then poke curly willow stems through the other materials and wrap them round, leaving the ends flying free.

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I use woollen braid for the hanging loop, but for extra attitude try sumptuous velvet or any luxurious trimming and to finish off a glorious Christmas wreath.

For all our Christmas articles to inspire you, head to our Christmas hub