My Magnolia Wreath

Since I live in Ohio you might ask, "How did you manage to get a bagful of glossy magnolia leaves without paying a cent?"

It's a lovely gift, at least from my grateful perspective! We spent Thanksgiving with my husband's family in Virginia. Imagine my surprise at finding a magnolia tree in his parents' backyard and then my delight at being told there are too many little shoots coming up all round it and it really ought to be trimmed.

"Excuse me! Did you just say you need a tree trimmer? I will be quite happy to take a few of those little shoots off your hands!"

My first attempt at crafting this wreath was a total flop, as in, the leaves flopped forward and down when I tried to hang it. Somehow I knew there was no fixing that particular wreath. The base I used was too small and thick.

But now I'm trying plan B...

Strip 80-100 leaves from the stems (Which I'd done in plan A, obviously!).
Gather 4 or 5 leaves into a bunch, largest in back and smallest in front.
Tie leaves with twist ties.
Fasten bunch to wire wreath with same twist tie.

I'm pleased to announce that plan B worked beautifully!

And now, a few tips to pass along from lessons I learned...

I made a painful and complicated mistake the first time around. The online instructions I found said to use wire to tie the leaves in bunches and fasten them to the wreath base. It was hard to get the wire tight enough and I had a sore thumb and finger.

So I launched out on my own initiative and used twist ties. It was as pain-free and simple and workable as could be. A bit of paper covering the wire makes big a difference. The ties were long enough to then fasten the bunch to the wire wreath.

This wire base is another reason it was so simple this time. "Serena, if you read this, thanks for the tip. This isn't the first time you've helped me out and I am much obliged!" It was the perfect base for magnolia leaves and only cost $3 at Jo-Ann Fabric.

Important Tip...after starting at the top with the first bunch, add from left to right (clockwise) around the circle.

I suppose most people have that figured out but I can be pretty slow at catching on to proper (simpler) techniques. I start at the top and automatically want to go counterclockwise around the circle as I add leaves. That means each new bunch needs to be fastened underneath the former bunch, making it difficult to keep everything neat and orderly. But no more!

One last idea. DO use a glue gun. I applied it to the leaf ends then to the wire and twist tie to secure it. Everything stayed in place this time. I was also able to add a few extra leaves here and there by simply gluing them in place.

I hung my imperfect-but-handmade magnolia wreath with a white ribbon and fastened it to an old window set atop the dining room buffet.

I had gathered plenty so the extras were added here and there to enhance the decor already in place. Three sprigs in a glass jar hanging in the breakfast room add a patch of green to the white brick wall.

I tucked a few into the mantle decor in the living room...

After an unsuccessful search for greens here in Ohio, I am ever so happy with what I was able to gather from Mom and Dad's Virginia backyard and assemble here at home. 

Free Magnolia Leaves to the rescue! And I really am glad I didn't stop at my first attempt! I learned a few things along the way. 

"Tell me and I forget
Teach me and I may remember
Involve me and I learn.

~Benjamin Franklin