Read this: Wreaths by Katie Smyth and Terri Chandler

The idea of foraging for plants to display at home is not a new one, but it is one being made more professional looking and more suitable for urban dwellers, by Stoke Newington florist duo Katie Smyth and Terri Chandler of Worm London. Their new book is a delightful colour-filled manual on how to make wreaths – also wall displays and hanging planks – often using little more than the natural wild plants and berries you can find on a sunday walk. Lately, the New York Times ran a piece about the rise of weeds in both floral and food industries and this book feeds into the thinking perfectly, as well as drawing on the huge wave of crafting.

The story behind Worm London is a lovely classic tale – both Katie and Terri were in jobs that had them setting their alarms with a slightly heavy heart at nights (stylist and actor respectively), before opting to give it all up for a more creative and self-driven existence. Their previous jobs had had them travelling the world and they had spotted the dominant role of the wreath in various different cultures – from the garlic spotted versions hanging above doors in Greece to the midsummer wildflower wreaths of Scandinavia and ornate thanksgiving door wreaths throughout the States. Their book draws on this rich culture, while celebrating the idea of  being able to walk outside your front door to find materials for your own unique wreath.

“We love foraging , it’s one of our favourite things to do,” Katie told us. “We just pick things which we like the look of and for us it simply just does not matter if something is classified as a weed. Once we had a taxi full of arrangements going to a event and the driver asked us why we were bringing all those weeds with us – we just laughed. It feels like such a shame if you love something but don’t want to use it because of how it’s classified. Sometimes the weeds are the most interesting and unexpected part. I think people are moving away from a more formal style of floristry and the approach is more holistic and natural. I guess we are all a bit more conscientious now too, trying to be less wasteful, more self sufficient and there is something so meditative about flower arranging, especially when you are doing it for yourself in your home.”

The duo has striven to make their guide as straightforward as possible, using methods and materials that are easily available and taking the reader through seasonal ideas based on what can be found. What they’re coaching to do with said materials, however, often transforms rooms. For instance the small bunches of herbs and greens hanging from a piece of string strung on a kitchen wall. The concept of a Meadow ball, which even just sounds nice, and a Matisse-inspired tropical wreath that looks wonderful before it’s even fashioned into something shapely to hang up (see intro image).

If you’ve never before thought about celebrating the beginning of Autumn by making a simple twig-and-leaf-based wreath to hang above your fire or in your hallway, then expect all that to change when you immerse yourself in this book.

WREATHS: Fresh, Foraged & Dried Florals Arrangements by Katie Smyth & Terri Chandler is published by Quadrille (£14.99). All photography: Kristin Perers.

 

 

 

 

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Jill Macnair

About

Jill Macnair has worked as an interiors journalist for 13 years, contributing to titles including Elle Decoration, The Sunday Times and The Guardian. She set up cult interiors blog My Friend’s House in 2009 with Ros Anderson and continues to run the forum daily.


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