Wednesday, December 8, 2010

diy: boxwood wreath

I fantasize all year long about warm fires on hearths, holiday parties lit by candles, making pralines and truffles to give as gifts, and every other Christmas cliché. Spiced cider with rum, anyone? (To be fair, how could you argue against that?)

A lot of of my infatuation comes from the romantic atmosphere that flickering candles, spicy and citrus-y fragrances, trumpets at Midnight Mass, and ethereal, soon-to-go-by-the-wayside decorations conspire to create. The string of cranberries will be eaten by the birds, the cloved oranges will be tossed into the compost, and the tree will be chipped into mulch. It's in part its ephemeral nature that makes a light-strung cottage so appealing.

This project, too, is ephemeral - you'll throw it out sometime in January, but no matter, because it's inexpensive, it's easy, and you get to keep a boxwood plant in the end.

I've made wreaths out of magnolia leaves in the past, but this year I'd be putting the wreath in front of the “mirror” we made, and I thought that called for something a little smaller-scaled and more refined. In the spring, I'd planted a hedge of boxwoods, and I love the shape and size of their branches and leaves. You can find boxwood wreaths, both faux and real, all over the internet, but they're all out of my price range, and they all offend my make-it-if-you-can sensibility.

I found that boxwood branches are much easier and faster to work with than magnolia leaves, since you attach dozens of small leaves in one fell swoop, versus one large leaf on a skinny, unwieldy stem.

  • a 14" plastic-coated metal plant support
  • floral wire (any mid-gauge - 18-22 - wire will work, but this stuff is green)
  • a 3-gallon boxwood plant (I used a Japanese boxwood because it's the cheapest, mine cost $12.99)
  • clippers for cutting the wire, and some for cutting the branches
The plant support will have legs on it; space them evenly around the ring and then twist them around the ring, like so:

This will give your branches and wire a little more to hold on to. Alternatively, you could just plan ahead (unlike me) and buy a wreath form.

Next, clip your branches. I tried to keep mine about 8 or 9 inches long, and if there are several bunches all growing off of one branch, it's best to keep these intact - you'll get more volume and fullness this way.

I trimmed about half the branches off my boxwood, and I'm thinking it will survive just fine, and I can re-pot it. If you're hoping to keep the plant, don't overdo it with the trimming - you can always come back and trim off more if you need them.

Fasten a branch to the ring by wrapping wire around it, about one-quarter of its length away from the bottom, so most of the branch is hanging free. Attach the next branch behind the first, so that the wires are covered. I cut 18" lengths of wire, and then used them for two or three branches at a time.

Go on this way until the ring is completely covered with branches, then go back and fill in any gaps or sparse areas. I probably used just as many branches on my second go-round as I did on the first.

I used a large S-hook to hang my wreath from the mirror.


  1. So lovely, but will it stay green through the season?

  2. Kathleen -
    I'm really not sure what it will look like in a month, but I have made wreaths out of magnolia leaves before. They lose a bit of color, and they warp and shrink a little bit, but the wreaths still look great - just different - by January. So many catalogs and online stores sell wreaths made of fresh boxwoods that I'm thinking they must hold up pretty well. One customer comment (at Plow and Hearth, maybe?) said that hers had dried very nicely, and she used it again the next year.

    I'll let you know in a few weeks!

  3. I had a boxwood wreath last year and it stayed very nice and green the whole holiday season. Just a few brown leaves but no brown wreath at all, not more than a regular wreath made of fir..

    love your simple but chic wreath :)


  4. Good to know! Thanks!

  5. Katiekathleen -
    Just wanted to let you know that the wreath is totally dried out now, and has retained its color really well. The leaves have actually lost their dark gloss and become a brighter green than they were before.

    When the branches dry, they obviously shrink and change shape, so I'm not sure that they'll all stay in place when I take the wreath off its hook. But if all goes well, I think I'll put this in a box under the bed and save it for next year.

  6. What's the rug in this picture?? where did you get it??

  7. Spo -
    It's the "Interlocking Squares" rug from West Elm a few years ago, 8' x 8'. It looks like they don't carry it anymore, but they usually have some pretty attractive, reasonably-priced rugs.

  8. Love your wreath and your mirror! Can you tell me where you bought your mirror? It is so pretty!

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