Image: CHARMING VINTAGE GIRL WEARING A FLOWER CROWN courtesy of The Graphics Fairy
1860,  Browse By Era,  Browse by Subject,  Crafts,  Victorian

Wreaths

PART 1 – A fascinating look into how to create wreaths esp for gracing the hair or frame. A lot of thought went into what was used for the wreath. Taken from the book Flowers for Ornament and Decoration.

Wreaths of mixed flowers are difficult to manage. A delicate eye for combining colour, and the lightest of hands for arranging flowers, are required to prevent their turning out clumsy garlands.

Few things however are more worthy of a little pains being taken in acquiring the knack of making them; this too is done so easily; they are so pretty, so many like them, and often they give such pleasure to those who have not seen them, or do not know how to make them for themselves.

The flowers too are so very few and simple which are required for them. It is indeed an expensive mistake to fancy that so many flowers and such grand kinds are wanted. For the hair even and for the dress, how well I remember those charming simple little gracieuses wreaths-Ivy, or evergreen Rose leaves, or myrtle, and beautiful dark or silvered foliage, a few Snowdrops, or some drooping Deutzia-that little flower like a delicate white Ribes; a few pale blue Harebells, single Hepitacas, Scillas, or bells of waxen Hyacinths; Pansies again, Roses, Azaleas amongst the fairest, and the exquisite Chinese Honeysuckle, and little sprays of Lilac.

Two or three waving Fern leaves and bunches of drooping Snowdrops, the Snowdrops sprinkled here and there amongst the smaller Fern leaves as well as at the sides-which can be prettier, and what can be more easily arranged?

In the mixed wreaths, too, where a line of some dark evergreen supports little knots of flowers, perhaps white and red Geraniums, mixed with their own small soft velvet leaves-expanding at the sides into a waving plume, or rising into a centre into a crown of flowers-are amongst the best.

The easiest, I think, to make, are those of one flower, and they are much the prettiest. At this very instant I remember one so pretty that I cannot resist describing it instead of the mixed jardinière.

It was of Thorn blossoms; scarlet and white; the white May or Hawthorne looking exquisitely fair and pearly; and both kinds continuing long unfaded.  Dark Rose leaves, like those of the Banksis, on their own green supple stems, are the best for the foundation.

If Rose shoots cannot be met with readily, two long branches of Periwinkle form the best of stems: the leaves are evergreen, and the stems are moist and green. I have heard that taking a little of the pith, and through the slit-up bark, grafting in the Mayflower-stalks, answers well for keeping the flowers the fresher. However that may be, a few little bunches of the half-open Hawthorn, with here and there a single spray of scarlet or of crimson, do look very lovely mounted on the bine. The green foundations stems should be tied together with a piece of green Berlin wool, beginning always at the upper end and working towards the root end. The first tiny piece of May being laid upon the stem, the wood should be wound on down it, and after three or four rounds a slipknot should be firmly drawn to render the flower steady.

Next should come a little spray of green-Rose leaves answer best; and then again more May in double or triple groups, with one or two of the bright little scarlet clusters.

The flowers should not be arranged too closely, but bound on at short intervals, broken by the smaller buds and green; and at the centre or sides, where a degree of fullness and of massiveness is required, the flowers should be arranged in small knots before they are mounted on the stem itself.

Each side would require about three kinds of flowers; and they should be arranged either with perfect exactness as to color and place, and without any attempt at all of evenness.

In wreaths like this many persons are in the habit of winding a very narrow green ribbon evenly down the stem, folding it frequently in a slope, to induce it to lie smooth.

For the head, or for hanging, German-like, on a picture frame, the wreath is often made most easily by beginning at each end, and working towards the centre. When a high coronal is to fill the centre; its knots of flowers serve to unite the two sides; where the centre is small, the join is best at the commencement of the side groups. When the May blossoms have been gathered early in the morning they should be put in water in a shady place, not in great branches; but the little heads, three inches long or so, should be cut off and put in water separately.

We should never handle the flowers much, the lightest touch being sufficient to bruise and bend them.

Be sure to check back next week for an article on using wreaths in decorating the home.