How to make a wreath from natural, foraged foliage.
As many of our families know we love to reduce, reuse and recycle wherever we can. This includes encouraging locally sourced tributes at our natural burial grounds. Foraged and handmade floral tributes are a personal and eco-friendly way to do this.
Sarah at Pembrokeshire Natural Burial Ground loves making wreaths from foliage that she has foraged with her son Jesse. They have made these for a few different seasons so it’s not only Christmas you should consider making a wreath for.
She wanted to share this with us and how she found the initial experience of ‘making your own wreath’.
Inspired by an autumn wreath
“I saw this idea when I came across some gold and red autumn wreaths online. They were beautiful, but what I really loved was that they were eco-friendly and cost nothing to create.
I thought it was wonderful people had created these with foraged flowers, leaves and foliage. When you think of wreaths often you think of Christmas. But this made me think ‘why Christmas – it’s an idea I can do any time of the year’. You just the style of your wreath to fit the foliage available for that season. It’s a wonderful way of sharing what nature has given us and lowering both the financial and the environmental cost.
We thought let’s give it a go…
To start Jesse and I put on our wellies and went for a walk to forage for foliage. We wanted to make make our own wreath for the gate on the burial meadow. With the days growing darker we thought it was a nice way to share the colours of the season with those visiting or walking the 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.
Making the base
After the cat had checked everything out I could get started. The bit I found the hardest was making the base. We used pliable sticks we could weave together. If you need something really sturdy I would recommend a woven natural base such as willow. I used natural string (the only thing I didn’t forage) to tie the base together. (Update: We are now growing willow whips so I can make willow bases without using string.)
From there I weaved the sticks into each other so I ended up with a simple base as shown below. I used quite sturdy long flexible sticks to get a circular shape and keep it strong. This was ok but what I learned from this experience was to get the base to a point you are really happy with it. Make sure it doesn’t fall apart before you add the foliage (there were one or two patch-ups – but we only learn by doing).
Adding the foliage
Next, I set about putting in the green foliage. When I made the base I tied a few pine cones in but wanted to add more. A top tip I found was that using pine cones that are still attached to a branch makes life much easier when adding them to your wreath.
I placed the different leaves we had foraged around me so I could work them in at the same time and get an even arrangement. When I tried to hang my wreath it was a bit heavy on one side. This made me realise I had to decide which way I wanted it to hang so I could balance it evenly. Hanging it up also tests your base to see if it is strong enough which was a good lesson to learn.
If you can, hang it up and then add the foliage I found this helps. But if working on the floor or a table is easier you can take it down to add bits in and check it’s balanced as you go.
The final touches
After I was happy with the green foliage added in the final touches. This included a bit of bark we had found on our walk. I attached a few more pine cones making sure they weren’t too heavy. I then added the holly and the berries we had found. Jesse helped me add in some interesting little leaves we had come across. This is what we ended up with.
Hanging it on the gate
The following day we took the wreath to the entrance at Pembrokeshire Natural Burial Ground and attached it to the gate.
It was an interesting experience and it is something we are going to do again. If this is something you have thought about we would definitely say give it a go. If you have kids you can collect foliage together which is good fun. It’s also very special and you know you have created a tribute made with love in memory of those you love. It’s personal, eco-friendly and special.
Update: we added new foliage to this wreath over the season so it’s also something you can use until the base needs replacing.”