And suddenly it’s not so much autumn as winter. There’s still splashes of colour around, but as the last load of leaves fall and are swept away, the shape of the landscape is revealed again, along with a diverse array of hedgerow seedheads, ranging from sombre browns to rich, startling yellows, deep maroons and cheerful reds.
With their spare, sculptural beauty, these last little vestiges of autumn add a little threadbare luxury to winter arrangements and wreaths, but they’re not overly Christmassy either, so while you could stash a few in your hot press for your festive preparations, you can also use some of the more autumnal colours now to bring a little late autumnal/early winter charm to your front door – as all the most stylish people in Portobello are doing.
These seedheads can easily make a big impact too. While I was on Manitoulin Island in northern Ontario for my oldest brother John’s wedding to Ashley earlier this year, inspired by the subtly breathtaking autumn colour down by the lakeside, I made a quick, freeform, autumnal wreath using just a bent coathanger (supplied and fashioned into a circle by my other brother’s girlfriend, Jane) and an armful of wintery branches, leaves, berries and seedheads from around the property where we were staying.
It took no time at all to come together, as all the bits and pieces have lots of body and structure all of their own; and it was also very satisfying to make, as it didn’t require any wire or fastenings – it’s just held together by weaving its own twigs, branches and wiry leaves tightly together, with some pretty bits poked in at the end and a bow tied on top to hold it up.
Some tips for making your own seedhead wreath:
- Have a think about how long you want your wreath to last – if you’re hoping for it to last for a month or two, you’ll need to use branches that don’t have soft leaves or wet berries as these will wilt or rot. Look for seedheads that have already dried out a little as these will last longer and won’t change too much off the bush.
- That said, even if you’re making a wreath just for the short-term, it’s best to start with seedheads and leaves that are dry. If they’re a little damp, leave them on newspaper in a warm place for a few hours before building your wreath.
- Collect a wide variety of lengths, colours and textures before you get started, without thinking too much about you want the finished product to look. Then lay these out on a bench or work surface, and start putting different combinations together to find a colour scheme that you’re happy with.
- To get started, take one length of a strong, wiry type of branch, ie fir, and wrap the ends around the coat hanger very tightly so that it’s taut enough to hold the tops of your next branches. Then wrap these following branches around the coat hanger slightly higher or lower than the existing branch, so that the whole wire is covered equally tightly with branches that start and end in different places. You may need to try this a few times to see what I mean! Then keep adding branches at different points in the construction to ensure a tight, thick coverage.
- I quite often go for a shape that’s a little like a ‘Q’, ie, an ovaloid circle with a horizontal-ish tail at the bottom
- Any shorter, more delicate bits and pieces can be held in place with either string, thin wire or, for a more natural look, strong, elastic leaves, like those from palm trees or reeds. Use one of these to make a bow for the top.