Bringing the outdoors in has always spoken to me. But in the winter months, when a vase of garden flowers isn’t something that’s readily available here in the Rocky Mountain West, I have to get creative to find living plants that can be foraged and used in an arrangement.
Breanne McMahon (@saltandstemslc) of Barebones Living (@barebonesliving) and I sat down this month to create just that…a live winter wall hanging from long lasting foraged evergreens, bits of Juniper blackened by the desert sun, pine cones collected from my own back yard and some of my favorite odd little things found in the odds & ends section of the hardware store, the Hillman Brass Tube.
Foraged Evergreens: Here’s a great opportunity to repurpose a Christmas Tree or go clipping around a family cabin. Not just a Christmas item, wild evergreens like Pine, Spruce and Juniper make for fragrant and long lasting decor for a bare winter wall. If you are clipping from a live tree, be sure you are on private land where you have permission, use a nice sharp pair of pruners and remember to clip at an angle to the next junction of the branch. Clipping at the middle of a branch leaves trees open to infection and damage. Some of my favorite evergreens are Colorado Blue Spruce, Lodgepole Pine, Pinyon Pine and mountain Juniper featuring fresh, bright blue berries.
Foraged Desert Juniper: If you’re lucky enough to have access to desert Juniper, the kind that’s bare and blackened by the desert sun, grab it if you can. This item makes the most beautiful accent to any arrangement or installation and provides a strong backing for our wall hanging.
Foraged Pine Cones: I always think it’s a bit funny when I see bags of pine cones at the grocery store selling for $5-$10 a piece. Pine Cones are a natural housing for pine seeds and, as such, drop plentifully from pine trees. If you live near a pine forest or are lucky enough to have a pine tree in your back yard, there are plenty for the taking during winter and summer months.
Hillman Brass Tubes: I happened upon these wonderful little things while designing open Air Plant Terrariums for a table setting at an event. They are delicate hollow tubes made of brass that are about four inches long and can be fashioned into some pretty decor to accent your wall hanging.
Gold Wire: While you can use standard floral wire, I like to amp this design up with a bit of gold wire that I don’t mind seeing on the exposed bits of Juniper. You can find it at any craft store or floral supply.
Second, Build Your Brass Accent:
Start by threading your gold wire through three Hillman Tubes to make a triangle. Join to that two additional tubes to make a second triangle. A third tube threaded by your brass wire will make for a three dimensional pyramid or tetrahedron. Be sure your wire is threaded through each portion and twisted at the ends.
You can leave it at that or add two more tubes to make yet another triangle plus one additional tube to make for a two sided triangular pyramid or octahedron (harkening back to High School Geometry class).
Third, Build Your Base:
Set your bit of brass decor aside for now and gather up a few branches of Juniper. I selected three branches that were roughly two to three feet long. Take a moment to hold them together in different configurations to find the way they rest most easily together, then bind with your gold wire by wrapping several times, then twisting the ends of the wire tightly together.
Wrap the branches with gold wire at more than a few points for stability.
Fourth, Add Foraged Evergreens:
Next select a single branch of your favorite Evergreen, again placing against your Juniper backing to find the place it rests best. You can also lift the bundle to see if it hangs in a way that you like. Once you’re found a good spot, reinforce with your gold wire.
Continue to build using one or two branches of Evergreens at a time, clipped at varying lengths. As a rule, try not to use more than about three different types of ingredients, for simplicity and flow.
Fifth, Add Foraged Texture:
I love adding texture to all of my arrangements. It adds that extra bit of wild and authenticity. For this winter arrangement, we’ll use our foraged pine cones. Some of my favorite cones come from desert Pinyon Pine, still covered in red sands or the long delicate kind found on Spruce trees. A mix of these and your standard pine cones add variety and a unique touch to your wall hanging.
TIP: To secure your pine cones, wrap a loop of gold wire around the base, tucked as well as you can between the tines of the cone for security and twist tightly, leaving at least a three to four inch tail of wire. Use the tail of wire to secure your pine cone to your wall hanging at a strong branch. Remember to wrap your wire where it can be well hidden under a neighboring branch.
Sixth, Secure Your Brass Accent:
Gather up your brass accent, testing at every point to be sure your wire is securely holding it in place and find a good place somewhat central and on top of your wall hanging as you’ll use this item as a hanger. Once you find a good spot, secure with gold wire at two points.
Next loop a good length of gold wire from the point of your Brass Accent to use as a hanging wire. Tie at the end and clip.
Finally, Hang Your New Decor
You can hang your pretty Winter Wall Hanging over your bed or on the mantle for a bit of fragrant winter decor.