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Sustainable and seasonal autumn wreaths

Kathryn Cronin of Fierceblooms, discusses the options and opportunities for creating seasonal autumn wreaths with British grown foliage and flowers as we move swiftly into the wet and windy autumn season. 

As the rain clatters down and the nights draw in, you might be forgiven for thinking that’s it for British grown flowers until springtime…. Well, you’d be right, and you’d be wrong. As a gardener and grower of scented seasonal sustainable flowers, I’m racing to plant my bulbs for springtime wild garden style arrangements before my clay soil gets just too wet and cold. 

But let me share with you what many of us will be getting up to after the bulb planting is over in autumn and before the start of festive Christmas wreaths…but hold that Christmas thought.

Wreaths, although associated with Christmas, can be created year round using a variety of seasonal ingredients. Many of us who grow soon discover that we need as much if not more foliage than flowers. That’s why there’s a fair few of us who have some beautiful seasonal foliage growing year round including in my own canalside cut flower garden here in Cheshire. Pittosporum and physocarpus as well as bay and brachyglottis have been some of my favourites this year.

A wreath with sustainable flowers at its heart. Locally grown dried strawflowers adorn a sustainable, biodegradable base. By Fierceblooms, Cheshire.

Seasonality is about really looking at what is growing around you, and it’s what many of us do to create our arrangements and wreaths. You can find some very unusual shapes and textures in the most unlikely of ingredients. I remember once taking dried dock stems to a Christmas wreath class. While the initial response was surprise and perhaps scepticism, by the time those beautifully textured stems had been paired with pheasant feathers, pine cones and a flourish of gold ribbon, there was many a convert to a dried dock stem.

Right now I have berries on my hawthorn hedges and the tree ivy is a lovely lime green. My honeysuckle will need pruning and the stems can be cut and used to form biodegradable bases for wreaths. Cut them now and form the shape when they are pliable enough and then allow them to dry in your desired shape.

I encourage responsible foraging. Take only what you need though as our wonderful wild countryside needs our support more than ever I think. It’s why many of us starting growing in the first place: to provide a haven for wildlife (sometimes all too enthusiastic wildlife) but we’d probably not have it any other way. When at the end of the season, clouds of red admiral butterflies take off before me, I consider it a good growing year. Many of us believe that a sustainable way of growing and creating is the way forward for a much more environmentally focused floral practice. A sustainable approach is the raison d’etre of Flowers from the Farm in my view. Local flowers, locally sourced, locally grown, with businesses often run by single individuals who love and care about their flowers.

But what of autumn?  The everlastings come into their own at this seasonal moment. Dried flowers are the mainstay of my dark winter months. Echoes of summer’s lost bounty provide a beautiful medium to carry on creating.

Kathryn of Fierceblooms celebrates her stock of British grown limonium flowers which she's carefully dried over summer for her sustainable autumn wreaths.

A great ingredient you can use are dried sunflower heads, if you can spare a few that the birds aren’t taking the seeds from. Helichrysum is an absolutely wonderful dried flower, as it grows pre dried! I cut the very last stems of these this week. Rose hips are red, Echinops retro is blue but dried achillea can be a range of colours, from white to purple to pinks and orange. I have patches of it growing everywhere and it is worth a space in any garden, be it  for a cutting patch or simply to enjoy for its garden beauty.

Dried flower wreaths are a favourite here at Fierceblooms, Slightly wild but with the heart of the garden styled into a circle or a heart. I use no wire and create them on  sustainable or biodegradable bases. There is no end to combinations and colours. Many Flowers from the Farm growers will sell their dried flowers, unique hand grown beautiful blooms that haven’t been treated with chemicals or dyes or bleach. Many of us, myself included, share our methods for you to create your own everlasting arrangements and you can find more about the classes and events members offer here.

A wreath brimming with sustainable flowers, grown with the seasons using chemical free methods. Pink helichrysum do cartwheels in this glorious wild creation by Fierceblooms, Cheshire.

While creating and crafting from the ingredients that have been gathered is a lovely autumn pastime, many of us will be looking forward to tucking up our flower beds with a good mulch, planting as many spring bulbs as we can before snuggling with a blanket by the fire. Until springtime……