The Christmas symbol of love and friendship: What it's like to make festive wreaths
Hanging a decorative wreath on the front door at Christmas has long been a sign of welcome and hospitality.
But Julie Peters believes this much-loved tradition shouldn't just be limited to the festive season.
She makes faux silk floral wreaths that can adorn doors and greet friends and family all year round.
"I adore Christmas, I have been making fresh, holly wreaths for many years; I enjoy nothing more than going out on a frosty day picking the holly, drying the oranges and getting together with friends making festive wreaths to decorate our doors over Christmas.
"The saddest part is the 12th day of Christmas when the decorations are coming down and although I am ready for a fresh start and enjoy getting rid of some of the clutter around the house I do feel a little sad when taking the wreath down from the door. The door looks a little empty and less welcoming.
"The glory and opulence of beautiful flowers as a sign of love welcoming far off relatives and close friends to your door has always been appealing to me. We often visit little country villages and admire the decorations on the country houses.
"I decided that these symbols of devotion, love and friendship should not just be represented throughout the Christmas period alone.
"Wreaths are a beautiful addition to any door and present a wonderful welcome and greeting which should adorn your door throughout the year,” says the 52-year-old.
After honing her skills making wreaths for family and friends, Julie, who lives in Yoxall, near Lichfield, branched out by offering other people the chance to order their own bespoke decoration.
Each wreath is created on a willow base, followed with a generous bed of foliage before each individually selected flower is added.
"Each wreath is lovingly made and I can never really envisage the end product; the wreath takes on its own journey as I decide its form, colours and shapes.
"Sometimes I like the wreaths to not conform to the traditional circle, using foliage to add a more contemporary shape and appeal.
"I feel the wreath needs to represent family and each family is different. I like to use an abundance of sumptuous faux flowers, especially foliage such as eucalyptus and ivy alongside berries and beautiful hydrangeas and peonies.
"My favourite has to be the hydrangeas, I love the colours and their voluptuous vintage shades can make a really stunning wreath for your door just before and after Christmas during those colder months," says Julie, a former neonatal nurse.
She lets her creative juices flow when making a wreath, devoting as much time as it takes to ensure each one looks picture perfect.
"The most important factor to for me is the wreath is never rushed but carefully crafted so the finished product is absolutely stunning as I am not one to accept second best," says Julie.
Her work also enables her to combine two of her passions - being creative and the natural world.
"I have always enjoyed the countryside, I remember walking the lanes with my mum when I was very young child around the village.
"We would always collect flowers and then bring them home and press them between the pages of a book. I have ever since I can remember loved art drawings and spent most of my down time out of work creating handmade gifts during the Christmas season.
"Most of my household is very creative, we always have some project being developed and so we are used to the chaos of it all.
"As chaotic and hectic the modern families lives are I still feel that a brisk walk in the countryside, enjoying the beauty and opulence of nature is not only necessary to cope with the demands of the everyday life but inspiring.
"Since I have been creating my all season wreaths I have taken a greater interest in the beautiful seasonal flowers and foliage; these usually create the inspiration for my work.
"Loving nature and art is very much a part of our family, we adore the countryside and equally the beauty of the coastline. I am always astounded by the opulence and abundance that nature provides and it is this generosity that I wish to develop whenever I create a wreath," says Julie.
While most of us will have a wreath hanging on our front door during December, Julie sees no reason why we should to take them down in January
"Christmas - it’s a season of joy, thanksgiving and generosity. A floral display of stunning and opulent foliage represents the generosity of the season.
"It is this generosity and abundance of love towards family and friends that I see no reason to continue throughout the year. A display of welcoming flowers to represent the season on your door is such a joy.
"To me it’s a very welcoming display of the treasures we make an extra effort for Christmas but I believe we should still continue to make these same efforts during the rest of the year.
"I adore flowers and the seasonal tones that represent nature throughout the year and to have these in and around your home is an utter joy.
"I can’t settle for second best and have always had an attitude that whatever you do each day it should be your absolute best.
"I always aim for my wreaths to represent the quality I expect and hope each one will bring a joy to the home it adorns," she tells Weekend.
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