Last year I saw hydrangea wreaths to buy at the Burford Garden Company and wanted to make one myself but couldn’t ever find the right hydrangeas to use (I think I was probably too late in the season by October). So this year when I was at my local flower stall at the end of August and spotted the English “everlasting” hydrangeas I had to snap them up. With the husband away for the August Bank Holiday weekend I set about making my first hydrangea wreath at nap time (not mine, I must add, unfortunately!) The technique to make the wreath is a bit different to others I’ve made on either a moss or oasis base, and that’s because it’s designed to be a dried wreath. But it’s very straight forward so it’s worth giving it a go, especially as the finished product is very forgiving. If you’re interested then please keep reading and let me know if you’ve got any questions.
What you will need:
English hydrangeas (about 10 stems) – you must use the English type, the ones that look a bit “autumnal” if that makes sense (almost like they’re going over!) not the big and blousey baby pink ones. If you aren’t sure then just ask your florist. They’re also much cheaper so win win.
Floristry reel wire – if you’ve not got any and don’t know where to start you can find it on Amazon
Ribbon or string to tie up your wreath
Grapevine wreath – I used a heart shape but you can also buy circles in all sizes. Hobbycraft is the place for this if you haven’t seen them elsewhere.
How to make your wreath:
1. Attach your ribbon or string (about 50cm depending on how you want to tie it up) to the grapevine wreath. I just tied mine around the top of the wreath and then bundled it up to keep it out of the way until the wreath is finished. Next you need to attach the reel wire to the wreath – if you’ve never worked with this before then my best advice is to be quite firm with it. I tied mine around the wreath with a double knot, cutting off the short end and poking this into the wreath, then wrapping the reel around the wreath two or three times to secure it. Make sure you pull it tightly. To be honest it doesn’t matter where you attach the reel wire (although this will be your starting point) but in hindsight I should probably have started neither at the top nor the bottom as it can get a bit fiddly when you tie it off at the end.
2. I know some people make their wreaths using the full head of the hydrangea but I feel that this gives it a rather “bobbly” look so I cut up my hydrangea heads into smaller pieces, trying to keep the tails as long as I can. The smaller pieces are more forgiving and, I think, create a better flow to the wreath. Here’s a picture for size of how small the pieces were that I used. Start by cutting one head into small pieces to start working and see how these feel for you, then you can gauge what works best for you (and also what you can get off the heads you have).
3. Start by placing your first piece of hydrangea flat against the wreath and use the reel wire to attach it by wrapping it around two or three times until it feels secure. I’m right handed and always work with the hydrangea to the left and the tail of the stem to the right. This is the way that feels most natural for me but you might feel more comfortable the other way. Test it out, you can always undo it. Be careful not to wrap around your string or ribbon as it can easily get caught up in this first part.
4. Slowly add more pieces, ensuring that they face in the same direction with the tails pointing always to the left or the right, with the head of the new piece covering the tail of the last i.e. the top of the flowers of the new head are up against the bottom of the flowers of the last. To get a good coverage of the wreath I always work across the wreath i.e. start on the face of the wreath then the next piece I move down the wreath to cover the tail and slightly around to the outside edge and the third piece I move down and slightly in to cover the inside of the wreath. If you don’t do this it can end up looking a bit less natural. Then I place the next piece on the face of the wreath, working out then in then back to the face, all while moving down along the wreath. The aim of this is that you shouldn’t be able to see the grapevine wreath from any angle.
When adding new pieces I find it easiest to hold the wreath in my left hand covering the hydrangea head of the last piece I applied and wrapping the reel wire with my right (I’m right handed). Don’t be afraid to hold the hydrangea, after all it’s going to dry so if you damage a petal here and there it won’t matter. Also hydrangeas are pretty tough!
5. Once you’ve covered the whole wreath you need to secure your reel wire. Placing the last hydrangea piece can be a bit fiddly and I always end up popping more than one last piece in the gap until I’m happy. Once you’ve attached your last piece wrap your reel wire around a couple more times and then cut off to leave you with a 30cm length. Weave the end underneath a couple of bits of looped wire on the back of the wreathand secure with a knot. Do this one more time before cutting the free end to a couple of centimetres and pushing into the back of the wreath so the sharp end is securely tucked away.
6. I always like to hang my wreath up and step back from it to see if the shape looks right. Even better if you can hold your wreath up in a mirror as for some reason you can often see something different if it’s the mirror image of what you’ve been looking at for the last hour. You can always snip a few bits and pieces at this point if you don’t like something, but always err on the side of caution as you obviously can’t stick it back on if you cut off too much! You can also add a few pieces if you feel the shape isn’t quite right or there is a gap – this can be particularly useful to cover the gap (if there is one) at the top of the wreath where you started and finished. Just cut a small piece of hydrangea (ideally with a strong stem) and push it in the gap. I added a couple of bits to the bottom of my wreath to give the heart the point I wanted.
7. When you’re happy with how it looks then it’s ready for hanging and you can wait for it to dry out. I didn’t leave mine anywhere special to dry out and it’s come out beautifully. I like this simple jute string with a bow for mine but a lovely tonal ribbon would work well too. There’s no right or wrong with floristry, only what suits your style and works for your home. The only thing I would suggest is not to hang it outside on your door unless it’s protected from the wind and rain.
There you go – that’s how to make a dried hydrangea wreath. As the flowers are dried the wreath is really very light and doesn’t need much support for hanging. It also means you can hang it most places that you couldn’t hang a traditional Christmas wreath for example. Mine is currently at the top of my (new!) blanket ladder (which I absolutely love) in the lounge although I think it’s going to have to move as my cat keeps nibbling it…