Wreath bases made from twigs give a rustic touch to a front door, garage wall or fence. They are one of several uses for twigs pruned from ornamental and fruit trees in spring and late fall. Willow withes are a traditional wreath, basket, fence and wall-building material. Poplar and most fruit tree twigs also are easy to shape. By bending and tying branches between spring and fall, you can harvest ready-made wreath bases.
"Living" Wreath Base
Stake brightly colored survey tape near healthy saplings with thin, flexible sucker branches.
Return in early spring before buds have formed, or in late fall after all leaves have dropped. Check sucker branch flexibility.
Bend each sucker branch into a curve without harming the branch. Secure it with twine or wire ties without "girdling" the twig. Intentional girdling involves cutting a groove all the way around a tree or branch, disrupting the sap flow between roots and crown, explains Ohio State University Extension specialist Randall Heiligmann, associate professor of forestry.
Return weekly, adjusting the position of the twig to make a tighter curve. Prune it from the tree when you can bend the branch into a full or nearly full circle.
Gather the pruned round twig wreath bases and match several together. Wrap them with a loose coil of fresh grapevine, twine or black-steel wire.
Secure the ends of the tie material by weaving them around a branch or knotting the ends. Allow grapevine to dry until it hardens. Spray wreaths with several coats of clear acrylic sealant.
Square or Triangular Wreath Base
Cut long, straight willow withes, maple or apple twigs to the same length. Trim away any buds or bud scars and break off any side branches.
Arrange branches in bundles of six to 10 and tie with wire, raffia or sisal twine about three inches from each end and across the middle. Wiring bundles is easier than wiring each individual branch into position, according to 30-year crafter Pat Hewitt.
Arrange each bundle so the pointed ends cross one another in one corner and cut ends cross in the opposite diagonal corner when making squares or rectangles. Arrange bundles for triangular shapes so cut ends cross pointed ends.
Tie wreath bases at each cross point using a figure-eight loop. Reinforce joined areas with instant adhesive or clear hot-melt glue.
Things You Will Need
- Healthy willow, poplar, maple or basswood saplings
- Bright-colored ribbon or survey tape
- Twine, wire ties or grapevine
- Pruning shears
- Clear acrylic sealant
- Instant adhesive
- Hot melt glue gun
- Clear glue sticks
- Wear long sleeves and tuck pants into boot tops when you go into the woods.
- Use proper tension when bending sapling branches. Tightly twined rope, wire or vines disrupt sap flow to and from the trunk.
- Learn to recognize poison ivy and poison oak so you avoid those hazards when working with branches and saplings.
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