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Easy, Elegant: It Must Be Old Man’s Beard


Easy, Elegant: It Must Be Old Man’s Beard

December 23, 2020

Florist Dundee Butcher (aside from having one of the best names out there) boasts an impressive floral pedigree and counts Kensington Palace, Claridge’s Hotel, and the Victoria and Albert Museum among her clients. The Texas native spent several years working in London, where she trained with famed British floral designer Jane Packer, before moving to Healdsburg, in Northern California, to open the Russian River Flower School; she teaches classes and sells her floral creations there. As she says, “I am never happier than when I am working with beautiful blooms.”

On a visit, I spotted these holiday wreaths made from the common tree lichen known as Old Man’s Beard and asked Dundee to give us a tutorial. She happily obliged, and I’ve since made three of them. They’re astonishingly easy:

Photography by Mimi Giboin.

Above: The holiday wreaths on display at the Russian River Flower School.
Above: All you need is some Old Man’s Beard, a wire frame, some twine, and a pair of scissors. Old Man’s Beard is a species of lichen known as usnea; you can find it hanging from trees branches, much like Spanish moss, in temperate zones of the US. It’s fragile but thrives on clean air. 
Above: Take a bunch of Old Man’s Beard and wrap it around the wire frame into a semblance of a round shape. (You can keep all the twigs and things that are caught in it.)
Above: Crimp the wreath to make sure it is the same thickness all the way around. To even it out, you can knead it a bit like bread. If it looks light or patchy in any spots, tuck in some more Old Man’s Beard.
Above: Turn over the wire frame and start tying the Old Man’s Beard to the frame using lengths of twine that are knotted in the front of the wreath.
Above: Make sure to tie tight knots and to space the twine ties in regular intervals all around the wreath.
Above: A waxed twine works well. You can also use ribbon or leather cord or string to decorate the wreath–anything, really.
Above: A finished wreath. 
Above: An alternative decoration is Old Man’s Beard wrapped around a styrofoam ball. No glue needed, just tie string in a web around the ball until the greenery is held in place. The loop on the top is made from rope and is affixed with a push pin. 

For more holiday-wreath making merriment, see:

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