The Wreath Lectures, 2017

Another year has rolled round and I’ve been sneaking up to front doors and admiring wreaths yet again. Last year was all about the mistletoe and silvery wreaths, this year what I’ve been noticing were cones. Big cones, little cones, it’s all about the cones.

First of all, cones with cinnamon sticks, a huge red ribbon and what looks like the contents of the fruit bowl.

Big cones, small cones and fake shiny fruit including cherries. I saw this wreath on quite a few doors locally and was slightly bemused by the apparent introduction of cherries to the festive fruit canon.

Cones with silvery leaves. Lovely.

And more cones with more silvery leaves and big silver baubles. This was perhaps the point at which I decided cones were the ‘thing’ this year.

What looks like a home-made wreath, I always like a low-hanging wreath (or perhaps I should call it a sub-letterbox? Or a below the fold?) I particularly liked this one because of the slightly wonky Easter-eggish shape.

This one appears to be coneless, but I liked the asymmetric gold leaves against the yellow door. (Poor photo, as it was a big house with steps up to the front door so I couldn’t get any closer, but I didn’t want to leave this one out).

Another yellow door and a really spectacular display – wreath PLUS ivy PLUS holly PLUS a big offcut of the Christmas tree. If you have a big grand yellow door, why the hell wouldn’t you? I would.

And in contrast, a plain green wreath not even hung up, just dropped straight on the doorknob, against an austere black door. Classy.

Another plain black door, this time with a twiggy wreath with a hint of sparkle underneath. Endorsed.

Finally, a poinsettia wreath not on a door but simply propped casually on a windowsill. Audacious, but it works beautifully.

Those are my best finds of the year, with no repeats – and finishes off a very happy Christmas. Hello to 2018 (in 20 minutes) and a big far off wave to Spring. I have a big pile of gardening jobs with my name on and I am looking forward to getting started!


The Wreath Lectures, 2016

We are definitely into the post-Xmas slump, it’s New Years bloody Eve after all, but the decorations are still up, just about, so it’s time for another wreath round-up.

I did worry, again, that I would struggle to find new and interesting wreaths this year, but as with 2015 I tried out a few new roads on my walks and I struck lucky. 

There are definitely a few common trends I spotted this year; last year was all about heart shapes, and while there are still plenty of your classic holly, ivy, evergreen and red ribbon wreaths out there, I just didn’t take so many photos of those traditional types this time round. As ever, the pictures are a bit wonky but I have tried to crop out house numbers where possible.

This year, everything seemed to have gone silver, white and sparkling. The spiky one above was a rather dramatic example, and after spotting that one it seemed everything I saw was sharp-edged, metallic, glittering and monochrome. 

And rather than holly or ivy, what I saw on wreath after wreath was mistletoe. It was definitely a bumper year for mistletoe (if only the artificial kind).

The wreath above on the yellow door with fake pearls for mistletoe berries I thought was particularly glamorous. That one is a favourite, I think.


The silver theme continued with these two, one with tinsel and bells and another livened up with a large pink bow.

Another spiky leafy wreath, all cream this time.

And to prove there was some colour out there, a spangly rainbow wreath to cheer things up a bit. (Stop press: I actually had this same wreath on last year’s round up, but it was too good not to include again).

If I was trying to be clever, I might say all these sharp, glittery edges and artificial textures over nature is indicative of the strange modern times we find ourselves in this year. Or maybe it’s adding a bit of sparkle and fun in the face of humdrum harsh reality. 

As I said at the beginning, there were still a lot of natural wreaths, I just didn’t photograph so many of them, but I couldn’t resist a few, as I love a good wreath/ painted door contrast.

Smoky blue door (how I love that colour!) with bright orange accents on the wreath, and pink door with a white and pine cone wreath. 

Finally, from Hatchlands Park just outside Guildford, a natural wreath with a bit more than just plain holly and ivy – look at that old man’s beard, and a gorgeous pine cone detail. Really special.

That brings another year of blogging to an end, and I hope a good 2017 awaits you all. It may not have been a memorable year for all the right reasons, but 2016 has taught me to be grateful for all the good stuff as well as weathering the less good, and I’ll try and make sure the good stuff is what I take with me into 2017.

Wreathed in glory

We moved into our new house on 18th December, and on the 22nd, the Christmas tree went up. I was determined that no matter what state the rest of the house was in, we’d have a tree and a wreath on the door in time for Christmas.

Unpacking the Christmas decorations always reminds me of past trees, which have always been of their era – our family tree in the ’80s was dominated by hand-made decorations, tinsel, and yards of silver lametta which we threw at the tree until it almost seemed to be drowning in it.

This was replaced in the ’90s by a power struggle between my mum, who favoured natural decorations (mainly from Habitat) of the wicker and pine cone variety, and I, who leaned heavily towards Victorian kitsch with gold cherubs and red ribbons.

At the turn of the century, when I had my own tree for the first time, the decorations were, erm, millennial in style – silver was dominant, with accents of pink and purple, and all from Paperchase. Lots of tiny mirrorballs and glass baubles which I won’t part with even though they are eminently not child-friendly.

By the mid-Noughties, glamorous mirrorballs seemed a bit tawdry in light of the recession, and I yearned for something more traditional and cosy. So my current theme is (I’d like to think) a cross between childhood Christmas (rocking horses, gingerbread men, snowmen) and Scandi style (heart motifs and red felt). Perhaps the kind of tree Sarah Lund would put up, if she did Christmas trees, though I’m sure she wouldn’t.

The second stage of dressing the house for Christmas was the wreath. I usually put up a conventional holly wreath, and in my heart, holly is always my favourite Christmas plant, with its connections to pre-Christian Yuletide rituals (as described in one of my most loved childhood books, The Dark is Rising).

However, holly wreaths do tend to dry out and droop rather sadly by Twelfth Night, so this year I decided I wanted to do something hand-made – and as I got to know my new neighbourhood, I noticed there seem to be lots of styles of wreaths these days.

This was a prime opportunity for some snooping, and I do believe there is a study to be done on class and social status based on peoples’ choice of Christmas wreaths, but I’m not about the judging, I’m just about the nosing around and taking pictures of things I like, so I’ll leave the Marxist analysis to others.

Photos have been cropped to conceal house numbers, so apologies for the rather poor quality in some cases!

Red berry wreath

Plain wreath with red berries

I liked this one for its simplicity, two-tone colour scheme, and the attractive spiral shape. This would work as a door decoration at any time of year, really, not just Christmas.

White wreath with ribbons

White wreath with ribbons

This one is about as far in the opposite direction as possible – positively lavish. This is probably the least to my taste of all the wreaths here, but thought I’d include it for reasons of balance and fairness, cos I’m nice like that.

Pine cones and chilli wreath

Pine cones and chilli wreath

This one is far more my kind of thing – I couldn’t get too close but I think in amongst the pine cones were Scotch Bonnet chillis, which is very cool indeed. Also a well-chosen colour scheme to contrast pleasingly with the smoky blue front door.

Silver thread wreath

Silver thread wreath

Possibly my favourite of the lot – so simple, so beautiful, with the silver of the main wreath so striking against the textured glass, and the bright pink hanging thread leaps out at you too. People from the neighbouring street, I salute your very good taste.

Plain red berry wreath

Plain red berry wreath

Another very simple wreath – this one looking like it could have been woven by hand with a few things picked from the hedgerow, rather than bought at great expense from some garden centre. I also like the low-hanging wreath style, which can look very eye-catching provided you don’t prevent the postman from reaching the letterbox.

Pale wreath with baubles

Pale wreath with baubles

This wreath veers towards the lavish, but I do like this one – the colour scheme is so well-controlled, and I like the mixture of natural textures, with baubles adding a touch of glitz. And the bright turquoise baubles exactly matching the colour of the door is a master stroke.

White wicker wreath

White wicker wreath

A one-colour wicker wreath – very chic. This one looks as if it ought to be on a seaside chalet, rather than south-east London, but it still looked very good where it was, if slightly austere for my tastes.

Our wreath

Our wreath!

Finally, the wreath on our front door. In retrospect, I rather overdid it, (especially putting the tiny stocking in the middle), but as I’d decided to make my own this year, I rather excitedly threw everything I had at it!

I bought a plain wreath from eBay, and added ribbons and cinnamon sticks from my latest Crafty Creatives box (which I will have to blog more about soon), and the pine cones and other bits (from a bag of pot pourri!) were charity shop finds.

The wreath was smaller than I expected, so next year I could take everything off and re-use it on a larger wreath, perhaps with some greenery woven in too. I like the fact I can restyle the wreath, and make it more or less complicated as I please – and of course continue to observe what my neighbours are doing and lift a few ideas along the way.

1st January 2013 has been the first sunny day for weeks and a chance to finally do some work outside – hopefully I’ll have some progress reports from the new garden to blog about soon, but in the mean time, a very Happy New Year!