Although the Christmas rush keeps florist Jenefer Baker (Music 2006) on her toes, she spared some time to offer wreath-making tips to Leeds alumni.
Jen runs Lavender Blue Florist, where she sells flowers, plants and gifts to the people of the Wirral. “I knew I wanted to do something creative and hands-on,” says Jen about her decision to become a florist. “It can be difficult to make a living in the arts, but floral design helps me to make money whilst also being artistic — and I like being self-employed.”
If you’re feeling creative, follow Jen’s advice to give your wreath that professional touch.
10 tips to better wreaths
1. Lay your foundations
It can be tempting to bind foliage straight onto a wire base without covering it in moss first — but sticking with this important first step will help to keep your wreath alive for longer. It gives a sturdier base to anchor your decorations into and also means you can pop the odd bit of extra foliage in after binding if you want to alter the shape. You may notice that the wreaths on supermarket shelves tend to be missing the moss, so including it will help to make yours feel superior!
2. Mix it up!
If you’re incorporating various foliages, it’s a good idea to plan a rough pattern to the order in which you bind them into the wreath. Then you’ll get a nice spread of textures around the whole piece, rather than it grouping all in one place. The exception to this is long pieces of ivy, which look fantastic en mass trailing from the bottom of the wreath. Use trails with woody stems, cut them on an angle and add them on once you’ve hung up your wreath ready to decorate it.
3. Collect cones early
Fir cones are a popular decoration that are associated with winter — but the best time to collect them is actually much earlier during the summer months.
4. Buy local
In Britain, including good quality blue spruce foliage is a must for that delicious festive scent. Try to find a florist that stocks British grown or a local supplier near you. I buy from a grower in Scotland.
5. Forage responsibly
If you collect wild foliage, choose those that grow plentifully, such as ivy or conifer. These plants, along with eucalyptus, can actually be invasive in a garden. Friends or neighbours who are gardeners may be happy to let you chop away at these.
6. Decorate the right way up
When building your wreath, hang it on a wall so you can decide how best to position your decorations. This way you can see exactly how it will look on your door
7. Keep your balance
Space similar colours at equal intervals around your wreath. Thirds or fifths usually work best. To avoid the design looking too formulaic, try using different decorations of similar colour to balance your design. Rather than spacing three oranges out equally across your wreath, try spacing a whole orange, a group of orange slices and an orange bauble in thirds. This keeps your wreath interesting.
Is there a part of your wreath you’re just not keen on? Try positioning your decorative layer strategically to cover any scruffy areas of foliage.
9. Revamp and recycle
Natural decorations look beautiful but if you’re keen to add a bit of glitz to your wreath, give old or vintage decorations a new chance to shine. I make bows from recycled fabrics and ribbons whenever possible. Not only is it better for the environment, it differentiates your wreath from mass produced options.
10. Avoid a prickly situation
Holly is pretty but very spiky! Rather than binding it into the wreath early, insert a few sprigs at the end of your arranging to save your hands from being shredded.
Watch Jen give a full demonstration on Christmas wreaths: