Friday, December 7, 2018

Rustic Rosehip Wreaths

Last week I went home to Nova Scotia to check on my Dad. It's been a month since my Mom passed away and I needed to reassure myself that he was adjusting to life on his own. My parents were married for just over sixty years, and after so much time together, the loss must weigh heavily on Dad.

At ninety-three, Dad will tell you that his memory "isn't so good", but truth be told, he's still pretty sharp. Over short distances, he gets around with the help of a walker. For longer hikes, he's a speed demon in a motorized wheelchair. On our walks together, he usually left me in the dust!

Opposite Dad's apartment at the Berkeley (an assisted living residence for seniors), there is a lake with a gravel path that skirts the shoreline. In the area closest to the road, I discovered a large number of wild roses. How these roses came to grow amongst the wildflowers and grasses I could not tell you. They seem to have self-seeded themselves around the shoreline quite happily. 

While roses have a reputation for being fussy plants, the abundance of these shrubs suggests that some roses are quite capable of withstanding whatever nature throws their way. No gardener fertilizes or waters them. No one wraps them up to protect them in the winter and yet they flourish. They're quite content to make their own way in the world, thank you very much.

What I found particularly remarkable about these wild roses was the proliferation of colorful hips. 

I have not had the pleasure of seeing them in bloom, but I imagine that the majority of these roses are single flowers that are pale pink in color. Mixed in among the single roses were other shrubs where the big, round hips suggest larger, double flowers. This second type of wild rose had glossy, reddish-brown leaves that were quite magical when mixed in with all the other autumnal hues.

I couldn't resist gathering some hips to bring indoors.

Even if there are only a few rosehips in your garden, it's nice to bring them indoors for the holidays. Arranged in little vintage bottles, they look quite festive.

A few stems of red hips can also look pretty in a jug with some foraged evergreens.

Rosehips can even add a small flourish to a holiday gift.

Rosa glauca (medium pink)

Rosehips are actually edible. When roses are pollinated small fruits are formed that carry the seeds. Most hips are round, but they can have an elongated shape as well. Like oranges, rosehips are high in vitamin C and can be used to make tea, jams, jellies and syrups.

If you don't have roses at the moment, but would like to be able to gather hips of your own, look for roses with single or semi-double flowers that have an open cup-like shape that encourages pollinators to visit. Many-petaled roses like hybrid teas make it hard for bees and other pollinating insects to reach the flower's centre. 

Stop deadheading your roses in late-summer allowing the blossoms to fade naturally and produce hips.

In my garden, a John Cabot rose is a thorny warrior that produces orangy-red hips.

Roses that are known for producing hips

Landscape and Shrub Roses 
Bonica (medium pink)
Carefree Beauty (pink)
Meidiland Species: Alba, Coral, Fire, Magic, Mystic, Pink, Red
Carefree Delight (pink)

Rugosa Roses
Hansa (deep pink)
Jens Munk (medium pink)

Hybrid Musks
Ballerina (pale pink apple blossom type roses)
Buff Beauty (pinky-apricot)
Felicia (pink)
Sally Homes (white)

David Austin Roses
Constance Spry (light pink)
John Clare (deep pink)
Shropshire Lass (light pink)
The Generous Gardener (soft pink)
Penelope (white)

Other Roses
Bourbon Queen (pink blend)
John Cabot (medium pink)
Rosa glauca (medium pink)
Rosa mundi (pink blend)
Rosa rugosa
Rosa rugosa alba (white)
Rosa woodsii (medium pink)

With the bundles of rosehips I gathered by the lake, I decided to make a few holiday wreaths to bring home with me. The starting point for the first one was a simple grapevine wreath.

Often you will see it recommended to use hot glue or wire to make wreaths. For me, that's a bit of overkill. I like to reuse my grapevine wreaths, so I always keep my working method very basic. That way, when the wreath gets dusty or I simply get bored with it and want to make something new, it's easy to dismantle and repurpose. 

If you prefer to make sure the wreath is absolutely rock solid, simply fasten some paddle wire to the back of your grapevine wreath and wrap the rosehips with the wire as you go.

Working in a single direction, I inserted the longest stems of rosehips into the outside edge of the grapevine wreath. If you push the rosehip stems in at a low angle, they should catch in the grapevines.

After I had gone around the circumference once, I went back a second and third time adding more rosehip stems each time. The look of this wreath is loose and pretty rustic, so it is hard to go too far wrong.

I was happy with the final project, but I wasn't done playing just yet. 

Next, I made a heart-shaped wreath. This time I kept the stems of my rosehips shorter for a fuller look (the working method, however, was the same).

Have I said how much I love making wreaths? My final version included some faux evergreen sprigs.

I like these faux-evergreen picks are from Michaels because they look so real. For this project, I used four stems in total. I trimmed the evergreen sprigs leaving just a couple of inches of stem. Then I wrapped some paddle wire around the wreath and twisted it closed at the back to secure the evergreen sprigs into position.

Unlike the other two wreaths, where I worked in one single direction, I began this final version on the lower left and worked in an arc that ran in opposite directions. Where the two sets of evergreen sprigs met, I tied a gingham bow. The final step was to add my rosehips.

I am pleased with how they all turned out. What about you? Do you have a favourite?

The days spent with my Dad passed quickly. It was hard to give him a hug and say goodbye. 

"Your visit was the best Christmas present you could have given me," he told me. That made my day and broke my heart all at the same time.

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  1. I love your wreaths ... perhaps I’ll try an Australian version! Also the bitter-sweet story of visiting your Dad .. I remember that feeling so well with my mother. Best wishes for A happy Christmas.

    1. An Australian version sounds interesting. Best wishes to you too Gerrie!

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    1. I am so sorry for your loss! He sounds like such a wonderful Dad. It's heartbreaking that you never got to thank him for being so thoughtful. You are so right. We need to treasure the people we love! My sincere condolences.

  3. Your dad looks amazing and sounds like he really enjoyed and appreciated your visit. Glad he is doing well. My mom is turning 80 this month and I treasure every moment we spend together. I'm wondering if those wild roses are native and that's why they do well where they are. The rose hips are gorgeous and I love the first grapevine wreath you show. They're all beautiful. Your wreaths are always stunning and your passion for making them shows.

    1. Wild roses grow everywhere along the coast in NS. They must love the salt air and somewhat moderate winters. They used to grow them on the median strip on Robie Street in Halifax, and every fall they would prune them right down to the ground, they would return next summer with a vengeance. I was saddened to see they took them all out one year.

    2. Thanks Karin. I heard from my friend Donna, who has a lovely garden just outside of Halifax, that these roses are not native and are actually quite invasive. It's too bad they are a problem. It was nice to find so many great hips to make my great wreaths.
      Enjoy your time with your Mom! I miss mine terribly.

    3. Julie, My brother lives near Robie Street so it is a small world! Too bad the city removed the roses. Perhaps the thorns did them in. It would be a messy, uncomfortable job to prune them every fall.

  4. Your wreaths are beautiful, I'm in Florida for a couple of months, and really want a beautiful rustic looking one - maybe I'll have to make a one out of shells!! Your Dad looks well, so lovely that you were able to go and visit - I can only imagine how hard it was to leave. Merry Christmas Jennifer!

    1. A wreath made with shells sounds wonderful and lucky you to be somewhere warm in the cold months. Merry Christmas to you too JayBee!

  5. Hello Jennifer girl .. Your dad looks wonderful ! ... He must have cherished your visit so much and it gave you a little piece of mind to see that he was doing well.
    Every time you do a post from Nova Scotia , I get a little home sick (even though it has been decades since I lived there) .. I remember my dad planting a wild rose bush in Louisbourg .. the scent was fantastic, something I will never forget.
    The wreaths are gorgeous .. you are so creative with such variations !
    A very pretty plant post for this time of year : )

    1. Thanks Joy. I was home a total of 4 times this fall with Mom's illness and passing. Though the visits were mostly spent with Mom, I was reminded what a beautiful place Nova Scotia is. Hubby and I are even toying with the idea of moving home when he retires...


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