Years ago, let’s say like 8, I started purchasing greenery (trimmings of trees & bushes used for making wreaths and the like) at a local nursery. It was fairly inexpensive and I was happy. At the time, I used it to just fill in my flower boxes, to add a little color near the entry ways of my home. Winter time is so dreadfully dreary sometimes (in Ohio) and this adds a lovely bit of color. It’s a nice little pick-me-up on an overcast cold afternoon.
One year, I waited too long and there was absolutely no greenery to be had!
What to do?
I admit, I have difficulty letting things go. I wasn’t just okay with not decorating that year. I like my home to be inviting, inside and out! I had to find a solution and once I did I felt completely ridiculous because in my own backyard was an abundance of evergreen bushes, various berries and branches to decorate with. Forget inexpensive! Free was WAY BETTER! Ever since, I’ve gone crazy harvesting an abundance of usable materials. I like to trim fairly evenly from the back of the bush so it’s not noticeable come spring that a chunk was taken out of it!
This year I decided to step it up a notch and make swag wreaths with my boughs and branches. My 4 year old daughter, Arden and I went out collecting our supplies yesterday. It was a chilly morning, but she loves to help me with all sorts of crafty projects and is already developing an artist eye. Which I have to admit, could not make me more proud!
This is my first ever tutorial, so please go easy. Upon editing photos I realized I didn’t do a very great job at capturing each step. In my head, I know what is going to take place next but obviously you the viewer cannot read minds, so feel free to ask me questions if you need some blanks filled in.
Sturdy cutting tool (for branches)
Various types of evergreen from trees and bushes
Berries still on the branches
(Nuts or dried grasses, if you like)
Twine or sturdy string for tying together each segment
Ribbon for bows
Hot glue (for adhering bows if you don’t like my methods)
1.) I start by gathering a handful of greenery. For this, I’m using False Cypress a fern-like bush. Longest branches first as the base.
I lay it out sort of flat, so it flares out at the bottom. Then I wrap and tie the cut branches with twine as tightly as possible. These are going to need to last several months out doors in poor weather.
2.) Repeat the process above with your next layer of greenery. For my 2nd layer I’m using cut Boxwood. I like to use a different type for each tier that way it provides a little more interest with the varying textures, shapes and shades of green. Again tightly bound with twine.
3.) Layer them together from smallest on top to largest on the bottom. Secure together with twine. If creating the double-sided swag that I did for my window, 2 sets will be needed for each side, which then gets adhered together in the middle.
4.) Add bow. I like to use weatherproof nylon ribbon. It’s a little stiff but has wire for flexibility. It holds up great to all the snow and rain we get here in the Midwest and can be used year after year. If you use a softer satin ribbon it can fade or will get rain spots.
Which is perfectly fine since you can change it out next year if you like. I attached my bows either with feeding a piece of twine through the back center of the bow or using a little “V” twig. Just slid one end of the twig through the back of the center of the bow and then the other stem of the twig through some of the tied branches. Of course, you are welcome to use hot glue if handy, that would hold it as well.
5.) Fill in bare spots with extra greenery to create fullness. Just work them gently either into the tightly bound twine or sort of tangle them among the branches.
6.) Add berries. I do this last because they are very fragile. They can easily get damaged, so I handle them as little as possible. You don’t need much for a pop of color.
Then HOORAY! You are done!
Yesterday I made 3 total decorations. The 3rd went on the lamp post (not shown). With various remnants of greenery finding it’s way into glass jars stashed around the house for added color. Finally, it starting to feel a lot like Christmas!