Did you know that just about any dried botanical can be used to create a beautiful wreath or decoration? As I look around my gardens and even the area roadways, I am always finding a different plant, weed or seed pod to use to create a treasure. Many of these botanicals can be spray-painted or dyed to increase their versatility and beauty. Others are just fine the way they are.
Some of my favorite wreath-making plants include; grapevines, Artemesia, and Sweet Annie (for making bases); Oregano, Tansy, and Queen Anne’s Lace blossoms; Strawflowers, Yarrow, Cockscomb, Lavender and Roses. The dried seed pods from the Common Milkweed and Butterfly Weed both make great additions to any creation–either left natural or decorated to match the overall design. Many weeds make great filler material including; Petticoat Lace, Lady’s Mantle and Sumac.
It is interesting to note that many plants will offer the home crafter something unique throughout the different growing seasons. I, personally, find myself having difficulty deciding whether to pick some flowers to create with now, leave them to re-seed for the next year or leave them for the birds to feast on in the winter. (There is something special about watching the winter birds feast on seeds I have left during the cold winter months.) Please remember to pick your botanicals responsibly, leaving enough of the plant to survive and obtaining permission from the owner of the land first.
Any botanical you pick must be allowed to dry completely either before using or after your wreath has been created. Care must be taken not to allow mold or mildew to form and ruin your efforts. If you use fresh botanicals, I recommend checking your creation periodically for any possible problems. It is best to pick your botanicals in late morning after the dew has dried but before the sun heats up for the day. There are several methods available to ensure your botanicals are dry prior to using them. This will ensure a problem-free creation. Drying can be accomplished via air-drying, in the microwave or by using silica gel. Using the microwave is the quickest method but does not always result in the best dried product. Silica gel can be used to dry those botanicals that contain a lot of moisture. It is a sand-like substance which you use to cover the flowers for a certain period of time. Silica gel is available at most craft stores. Simply follow the instructions on the box. Air-drying is the method I prefer to use. Air-drying allows you to dry a large amount of material at a time with minimal investment. You can even pre-arrange the material into design bundles prior to hanging to dry. If the botanicals are brittle when you try to use them in your wreath, mist them with water until more pliable. If the material is extremely brittle, it can be placed in a large plastic garbage bag and heavily sprayed with water. After 20 minutes or so, the material will be easier to work with.
Once dried, the botanicals are ready to be crafted into an heirloom wreath, sway, garland or even ornament. Let your imagination run wild! Design books are available on-line or in stores to assist you. Remember by picking, drying and creating your own dried décor, you are enjoying one of Life’s Simple Pleasures. A pleasure that will continue to provide for months to come!
For those of you who reside in central Illinois, I will be hosting several hands-on workshops this fall and winter at The Simple Heart of Life herb shop using dried herbs and botanicals. Our herb shop will be opening the first weekend of September and workshops will begin the following Saturday. Post a feedback message below and we will be happy to put you on our mailing list and send you a list of our workshops.