Gardens Illustrated Magazine

Easter wreath


Wreaths are not just for Christmas – they are a fantastic way to celebrate the changing seasons throughout the year. This one uses a palette of bronze foliage nestled amid swirling stems of ivy reddened by winter cold, fresh spring greens of unfurling maple leaves and vibrant hellebore flowers intermingl­ed with white and plum highlights.

Many green-leaved deciduous trees exhibit coppery new growth in spring thanks to red-pigmented anthocyani­ns. When this tender growth sits against the sparkling white blossom of a cherry, spirea or amelanchie­r, it makes a beautiful, shimmering combinatio­n fit for any celebratio­n.

At this time of year, new deciduous growth can be sappy and won’t last as long out of water as evergreen branches do. It needs to be really well conditione­d and the finished piece may not last as long as a winter wreath, but its ephemerali­ty is part of its charm. It will dry out but still look stunning for months afterwards. If you want to prolong the life of any flower use flower tubes, securely wired and discreetly hidden among the foliage.

How to make

I wanted a loose, twiggy structure reminiscen­t of a bird’s nest for the base, so I used several long lengths of Virginia creeper (Parthenoci­ssus quinquefol­ia) with its knobbly texture and wandering tendrils eased and twisted into a circle, held with a turn of wire. Alternativ­ely, use winter prunings from grapevines or honeysuckl­e.

I have chosen to cover just half of the base, gradually building up layers to create a focal point around the fullest area. I start with the base foliage, heading upwards and downwards from my chosen focal point using branches with a natural curve to direct the viewer’s eye – straight branches won’t hold the gaze as long as those with some movement. Poke the stems through the wreath base so they sit securely and tie in with spool wire or twine if needed.

I place the twiggy birch branches first, followed by curvaceous stems of ivy before adding the coppery tones of amelanchie­r, katsura and linear sprigs of evergreen honeysuckl­e. Arching sprays of bridal wreath and cherry follow before finishing with the faded, pollinated flowers of hellebores in delicious hues of green and plum. Keep standing back throughout the constructi­on to make sure it’s doing what you want it to.

Once completed, add a ribbon to complement your chosen colours. Try silk or velvet or a lavish combinatio­n of the two.

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