As many of the families that visit our natural burial grounds know we love to reduce, reuse and recycle wherever we can. This includes encouraging locally sourced tributes for our natural burial grounds and we love seeing foraged and handmade floral tributes. Sarah, at our natural burial ground in Pembrokeshire, has made a wreath from foliage that she has foraged with her son Jesse. She wanted to share this with us and how she found the experience of 'making your own wreath'.
"I saw this idea when I came across some beautiful gold and red autumn wreaths that had been shared online. They were stunning, but what I really loved was that nothing had been bought. I thought it was wonderful that they had been made from flowers, leaves and foliage collected right on the doorstep. Wreaths are associated with Christmas but it reminded me that this is an idea you can do any time of the year,. You only need to change the style of your wreath to fit the season with foliage that is available, and its a wonderful way of sharing what nature has given us.
Yesterday Jesse and I decided that it was time to put on our wellies and go for a walk to forage for foliage in an attempt to try and make our own wreath for the gate on the burial meadow. We thought with the days growing darker it would be a nice way to share the season colours with the people that pass, whether they are visiting or walking their dogs. We took our bags (reusable bags for life of course) and headed off to see what we could find. This is what we came back with.....
After our cat, Ambi, had checked everything out I could get started. The bit I found the hardest was making the base. We used pliable sticks we had picked up that we could weave here and there, but if you need something really sturdy I would recommend a woven natural base such as willow. This has gone onto my list of things to learn (how to weave a willow or plant fibre base) but, this time we used a natural string (the only thing I didn't forage) to tie the base together. From there I weaved the sticks into each other so I ended up with a simple base as shown below and used quite sturdy long flexible sticks to get a circular shape and keep it strong. This seemed to work ok but I learnt, get the base to a point you are really really happy with it so it doesn't fall apart before you add the foliage (there were one or two patch ups - but we only learn by doing).
Next I set about putting in the green foliage I had found to bulk out the base, I had tied a few pine cones in as I went initially. A top tip I discovered was: 'Find pine cones that are still attached to part of a branch if you can' - they are much easier to add into your wreath. Working with all the different types of leaves around me, I added them in to try get an even look. I then realised my wreath was a bit sideways heavy so the next tip I learnt was: 'Decide which way you are hanging your wreath and that it is balanced'. If you can, hang it up and then add the foliage. If its easier you can take it down again and add more after but if you put on something heavy check it is still balanced. Hanging it up also tests your base to see if it is strong enough. After I was happy with how all the foliage looked I added in the final touches, which included a bit of bark I had found....
I attached a few more pine cones making sure they weren't too heavy and then I added the holly and the berries I had found for some colour, as well as some other interesting little leaves I had come across. This is what we ended up with and tomorrow it is going to be hung on our gate at the natural burial meadow. We have shared a few photos on our Facebook page if you want see how it looked when it was in place: www.facebook.com/pembrokeshirenaturalburials
It was an interesting experience and it is something we are going to try again. Before I do, I am going to see if I can learn how to weave a really good base. If this is something you have been thinking about doing give it a go, it's good fun and nice to see something come together from simply the natural bits that you have foraged. Me and Jesse were quite pleased with out first attempt - we will see how it fares in the great outdoors.
Stories and thoughts from the Leedam camp.
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