My friend Carol has a PeeGee Hydrangea (H. paniculata) in front of her house, which has been burnished a lovely shade of deep rose and mauve from the cool weather, but not yet ruined by frost. I suggested we get together to make wreaths out of some of her blooms and she enthusiastically agreed.
We lucked out weather-wise as the day dawned bright and clear. We set up a folding table outside to take advantage of the beautiful day and with no worries about making a mess. There are always a few spiders and creepy crawlers in freshly picked flowers, so they got a chance to make their getaway safely.
We chose the rosiest blooms we could find, filling a laundry basket with voluptuous, heavy bracts. Working with fresh hydrangea is much easier than dried; while it is equally delicate, it is more pliable than brittle.
I had a store-bought wreath frame on hand, but a coat hanger works as well. The hook is bent around as a nail hanger and all the angles worked into a round shape.
Using a spool of 24-gauge wire, we begin by securing the wire to the frame. Choosing one or more blooms, placed along frame, we wrap gently, but firmly (too tightly, the stems will break; too loosely, they will fall out as the stems dry), attaching it to the frame with several loops.
Advancing by wrapping wire several inches along frame, we then place the next blooms and repeat. The idea is to try to position blooms so that the best color faces outward and there is some symmetry in size and shape as we work along. At the end we can cut tips and adjust edges to create a pleasing look.
It really doesn’t take long to work around the frame because of the bulkiness of each hydrangea head. When finished, we snip wire and tuck securely into frame. Assessing where the wreath looks fullest, which will be the bottom, I cut a six-inch piece of wire and slip into the opposite side to create a loop for a nail to hang it, marking with a scrap of ribbon so it is easy to find later. Here is the completed wreath, which ended up somewhat heart-shaped:
Carol had some Cockscomb (Celosia cristata) on hand to add to hers, creating a nice effect. Any combination of dried flowers can be added when making a wreath, each is a unique creation and all that matters is that it pleases you!
Setting the finished wreath flat, out of bright light for a day or two to dry sets the bloom, so nothing will dry in a droopy way. Once dry, hanging on a wall that has indirect light will help to preserve the color.
Any type of hydrangea can be used for wreaths and arrangements once the flowers have passed and the bracts firmed up. (The ‘true’ flowers on hydrangeas are tiny, surrounded by four-petalled bracts that we think of as their flowers; poinsettias and dogwood are other bract inflorescences.)
We had a lot of fun visiting, being creative and making something beautiful to enjoy in our home during the winter months. Our wreaths will also serve to remind us of this lovely autumn day shared with a friend.