The history of the wreath:
The word wreath is said to have its origins in the word ‘wriϸan’, an Old English word meaning ‘to twist’. At Featherstone’s we love to create wreaths at all times of the year, twisting locally grown willow to form our wreath bases. Often these are thought of as a Christmas decoration following a long-held tradition, started by the Celts, of using evergreen foliage, holly, and mistletoe to decorate their homes during the dark winter months.
However, the tradition of using wreaths at funerals dates to ancient times, placed by the Greeks and Romans as symbols of honour, eternity, and the circle of life. We link into this ancient symbolism with the choice of cut foliage we use in our designs such as ivy to symbolise love, friendship, immortality, and death, as well as rosemary which is recognised as meaning love and remembrance.
Why and how we design and create fully sustainable wreaths:
Considering the history of the wreath, where we humans created natural arrangements with nature’s ingredients to honour their loved ones, the modern wreath often seen in funeral designs feels at odds with this ancient craft.
Flowers are often placed in remembrance on loved one’s graves or headstones. While offering the person grieving a moment to pause and remember, it is a sad sight to then see a few weeks later decomposing flowers wrapped in plastic that will never break down. Similarly, it saddens us to see flowers arranged into oasis or floral foam left on graves in our beautiful local churchyards. Unfortunately, floral foam is now known to be a single use plastic that decomposes into microplastics, infiltrating the ground water and so making its way into our precious streams and rivers harming aquatic life.
The wonderful news is that there is another way. Using willow bases and sustainably harvested moss from Wales we make wreaths that are fully compostable and will naturally break down if left – returning to the soil without leaving any man-made material behind. Our aim is to always tread lightly on the planet around us, so knowing that we are creating beautiful, meaningful, and totally compostable arrangements fills us with joy.
Wreaths in January
Last week we created these living wreaths which were commissioned to honour the memory of a lady who loved her garden and grew vegetables and flowers on her allotment. We added plants and bulbs to the moss that not only added colour and texture to the arrangement but also were shared among family and friends after the service. The cut foliage was a mix harvested from our own flower field and supplemented from our colleagues in Cornwall. We also sourced cut flowers from Cornwall to create the two different colour palettes seen. I have popped a list of the flowers and foliage used below to give an idea of the range that we can grown in the UK during January, without importing any stems from abroad.
We were thrilled to receive the following feedback which supports why we so love creating these arrangements – far more elegantly than we can ever write. Thank you, Caroline, for allowing us to share these words - it was an absolute privilege to create these for you.
"A thousand thanks for making sense of my ramblings, for the absolutely stunning living wreaths which were a marvellous ice-breaker at her wake and will provide sunshine and memories for friends and family over the coming years."
"From the offset, Katie was absolutely marvellous. We were unable to meet, however just chatting with her over the phone, she totally understood where I was coming from, and the follow up emails were prompt and informative. At such an emotional time, Katie provided a top service and the living wreaths that she created would have made my late mother smile. What a lovely touch to be able to share the plants and cuttings with her family and friends so that they have a yearly reminder of her. Thank you so very very much Katie."
Flowers and Foliage used:
- Sweet William
- Twisted Willow
- Pussy Willow
Find out more about our funeral flowers here