John Eke, Head Gardener at Summer Lodge, loves to do that little bit extra to surprise and delight guests, whether that’s creating his legendary Halloween displays or making the Christmas wreaths that festoon the hotel at this festive time of year. He also enjoys sharing his skills and here he gives you a few green-fingered secrets for making those decorative wreaths.

Start by collecting six lengths of pliable young twigs from your garden (or ask your local flower shop), about 36” in length. (Willow, budleia etc are ideal)

Form one length of twig into a circle, about 12” diameter, and secure with twist ties (you can use a freezer bag tie etc). Repeat this with the remaining twigs, staggering the starting point.

When complete, tie in any remaining shoots by wrapping string (or similar) around from the outside of the ring over the twigs through the centre and under, keeping the string tight at all times. This will bind it all together.

Whilst in your garden or walk, collect several assorted coloured twigs, pine cones, teasels, etc to decorate your wreath with. These pieces need to have a bit of stem to facilitate the fixing to the wreath. You will need some florists wire to secure them to the ring. We use 12” 22 gauge and 7” 19 gauge wire.

Now time to fix your decorative “bits and bobs”

There are two different methods:

A) If you require your decorative pieces to be displayed upright rather than flat, then around the bottom of the piece’s stem, this is how you proceed. First prepare your wire (7” 19 gauge) by bending the end around 180degrees, about 1” from the end. Place the stem base of the piece alongside the short end of the wire. Pick up both the wire and the stem between finger and thumb. The upper part of the stem in the palm of your hand, then holding the stem tightly ¾” from base. Bend the long wire 90degrees then wrap the long wire tightly around the stem about 2 times. To secure the stem to the wire leaving the wire like an extended stem.

B) Cut some coloured twigs into 4” lengths. In bundles of 3-4, align them together. Tie centrally with ornamental string (ribbon, raffia etc) These can be secured to the wreath using 12” 22 gauge wire by fixing the wire through the knot of the ribbon. Then wrapping the wire around the ring.

John with the first of his decorations

John with the first of his decorations

Be Bold, Inventive and do not feel embarrassed – go for it!

Finally, to secure your wreath to your door, use a loop of ribbon or raffia.

Good luck and have a wonderful Christmas!