Escaping the heat- it’s 31C here today- I’m sitting in the summerhouse. Facing north. There’s a slight breeze skimming over the horseshoe pond. It can’t really be described as cooling. Alongside us, there’s the sound of straw, drying and crackling in the sun. The harvest is safely gathered in, and now there’s bales of straw scattered all over the field, like some kind of land art installation.
As I’ve moved outdoors for a few days, I’ve made a sweet pea posy for the summerhouse coffee table, the last of my flowers no doubt. And a sunflower wreath, to match the sunny weather.
Here’s how I made my wreath. I’ve recycled an old moss wreath I bought a few years ago. You could use a wire, or willow ring and pad it with moss.
Rake some moss from the lawn. You’ll be doing your lawn a favour; now is the perfect time to scarify and aerate your lawn. Or, buy some from a garden centre or nursery. It’s usually sold for making hanging baskets. Soak it in a bucket of water for a few hours.
Squeeze the moss into thick sausages and place on the ring. Wind all around with string, kokadama style. Or use recylable u-shape metal pegs. These are commonly called German mossing pegs. They can be carefully saved and re-used.
Next, collect sprigs of foliage such as ivy. Any evergreen will do. Plunge them into a bucket of cold fresh water for a few hours, or overnight.
Use sharp florists’ snips -or a kitchen knife to cut the ivy into 15cm sprigs. Don’t use seceteurs for flowers or ivy as it crushes the stems, rather than cutting them cleanly.
Push the ivy into the moss all around the outside of the ring, facing outwards. Push some ivy into the centre of the ring, facing inwards. Push a few vertically down into the ring. You need about 10cm of the stem showing. Secure with mossing pegs if needed.
Cut flowers from your plot, or buy from florists. You will need three focal point flowers for the top. These can be anything of a larger scale than the other flowers being used. I’ve used sunflowers, but you can use lilies, rudbeckia, dahlias, daisies, or gerbera.
Place all flowers up to their heads in ice cold fresh water in a cool dark place such as a potting shed or garage overnight. This conditions the flowers and makes them last longer.
I’ve used white argyranthemums (daisies) of various sizes and my fluffy filler is ammi, sown in the spring.
I’ve also picked out the colour of the yellow centres with some spikes of verbascum. My cut flower patch took a pasting in the wind and rain, but flowers seem to have survived, even if they are now horizontal.
Place three focal point flowers at the top first. Then add the next focal point flowers – large white daisies in a triangle, at each side and bottom of the wreath. It’s difficult to push into the moss, so you will find the flowers naturally fall to different angles, which looks best anyway. Next add a few verbascums. These are angled upwards to form a halo of flowers. Add some cow parsley-like ammi as a filler. You could also use gypsophila. Finally add some tiny white oxyeye daisies and field cornflowers. Mine grew from a packet of wildflower seed.
Spray the moss and flowers with water twice a day to keep fresh. Your arrangement will last about a week. You can reuse the base and ivy, adding fresh flowers to keep it going. The ivy will last for around a month. If you’d like to add heavy flowers such as roses and lilies, you can buy some tiny glass test tubes and hide them amongst the moss before adding the ivy. Use wire or twine to secure them. You can top them up with water each morning and the flowers will last even longer. I do this in the spring when I want to put bunches of snowdrops and dwarf irises in my door wreath. Their flower stems are delicate; it’s easier to tie small bunches and place them in the hidden test tubes.
This is a simple silver birch twig wreath. Lengths of twigs are wound around and secured with twine. Ivy is poked into the birch. In January, ivy will last a month without being watered simply because it is cold and damp.
I wrote about the winter wreath here: https://pin.it/iw5zqyz5idkhbe
View from the summerhouse today. My sunflower wreath is in tune with the seasons. It took me about half an hour to make. I enjoy using flowers from my veg plot to create arrangements for the house and garden. All it cost me is a few packets of seed, a bit of string and a couple of florist supplies, which I guard carefully to re-cycle and reuse.
I don’t use floral foam as it can’t yet be recycled. It goes into landfill and doesn’t break down. It’s bad for the environment. Using moss is a good alternative – and it’s natural. At the end if its use, it can simply be composted.
Some tips on cutting flowers comes from Georgie Newbery at Common Farm, where I learned how to grow cut flowers and make natural arrangements.
1. Cut flowers in the morning when stems are full of water.
2. Remove all the lower leaves on the stems.
3. Place flower stems up to their heads in cold, fresh water. Leave overnight in a cool place.
Take care with poisonous plants such as aconitum. Wear gloves and remember to wash hands after handling.
I paid for my courses at Common Farm, and also bought Georgie’s books. I have no hesitation in recommending courses and flowers from Georgie.
Common Farm flowers and courses : https://www.commonfarmflowers.com/?SID=o3dsu9kotrkrq5n05qkulm0433
The Flower Farmer’s Year by Georgie Newbery https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0857842331/ref=rdr_ext_tmb
German mossing pegs :https://www.countrybaskets.co.uk/german-mossing-pegs-40-mm-004650
Ammi majus seeds and advice https://higgledygarden.com/2013/01/16/sowing-ammi-majus-seeds/
In a Vase on Monday. Why not go over and see what Cathy and the others are making for their IAVOM. https://ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com/2019/08/26/in-a-vase-on-monday-a-first/