Let me show you how easy it is to make a Swag or Wreath with Fresh Herbs to scent a room, flavor a broth or dry to burn later in a fireplace or grill.
Fresh Herbs Now For Dried Herbs Later
If you’ve been with me for awhile, you know I was new to growing herbs in my own garden, veggies or edible flowers.
However now, I absolutely love the last months of winter (which I used to detest), as I begin again, to start seeds in my greenhouse, for my own herbs in the summertime.
Having grown up in a Mediterranean influenced home, fresh and dried herbs are in all of the cooking I learned from my mom.
But herbs, for me, start out fresh during the warmer climate, be it in my herb garden, herb plants in windowsill pots or local farmers market.
While they are abundant, I quickly make a dried stash for later in the year, including a new process I love by extracting essence from my herbs and flowers.
What Is A Swag?
Sure, we all know what a wreath is, a firm base (wood, metal or styrofoam), with anything we want wired around it.
A swag, however, does not rely on a base, it simply relies on long stems of herbs, flowers or other greenery, and tied together at one end to hang upside down.
Buying a Floral Foliage swag is quite costly, so I wanted to show you how to make your own.
What I find so great about a swag, especially a fresh herb swag, is that is has multiple uses, and not simply ornamental.
An herbal swag, of various sizes and selection of herbs, makes for a great gift.
What To Do With An Herb Swag Or Wreath
Surely, an herbal swag can hang anywhere and for a variety of different reasons:
- A cupboard handle or pantry door in the kitchen, using herbs with shorter stems, to scent the kitchen with herbs.
- Over the shower head, also known as Bath Bouquets, so the steam intensifies the aroma.
- Drop it into a pot of homemade bone broth or other homemade soup broths.
- Small elegant swags for a place setting.
- Fresh or dried herb swags are perfect to place over your grill fire to impart flavor into the food you cook; a practice I observed often while in Portugal.
- Hang small swags on your tree during the holiday season , so when the lights are on, the warmth brings the scent to life.
- Or simply let them dry and burn them, like smudging, during cold and flu season, in your home to kill airborne bacteria.
A Few Simple Supplies To Make Our Swags Or Wreaths
First we will want to decide what the swags will be used for, before we gather our supplies.
While the most important supply the type of herb we want in an herb bundle of any single or mixed herb variety, we will need a few craft supplies to get started.
- Light gauge wire (also known as floral wire), often found in a craft store, for most swags. A heavier gauge wire would be needed for heavy sturdier herbs.
- Twist ties, if they are green, can also be used for small bundles of herbs.
- Scissors that will cut the wire and trim stems.
- Cooking twine, if the swags will be used for culinary purposes; such as herb bouquets, culinary twine is usually all cotton and can withstand hot water.
- A piece of ribbon per swag, for a touch of color, if the swags will be on display for holiday decorations or given as gifts for special occasions.
- Some type of wreath form, if making a wreath instead of a swag, which can be a wire form, wood or styrofoam wreath base.
- Edible wreaths, for best results, work best using a styrofoam form and floral pins to pin the fruit, candy or other food items, to the form.
Here are just a few items I use when making swags and wreaths:
Getting Set Up To Make A Swag
First, we will want to gather a bundle of favorite herbs; remembering that many herbal flowers fall into this category too, such as fennel flowers, lavender, roses or the very medicinal calendula flower.
Depending on how many swags you will be making, consider having a lot of herbs herbs to make each swag look full.
When the herbs eventually dry, the swag will sill look attractive.
Once the herbs have been gathered, place them, stems down, into containers of water in the kitchen sink, while working on the countertop.
Next step is to cut a piece of wire for each bundle.
Each piece should be about ten inches of wire, which is enough to wrap securely around the stems, leaving enough to create a hanging loop.
Easy Steps – How To Make The Herb Swag
One of the first herbs I will select for my herb swag is fresh rosemary, simply because it dries beautifully and the aroma lingers a long time, whether fresh or when it dries.
Working on a tabletop covered with paper towel or a piece of cardboard, we lay piece of wire about 8-10 inches long or twine on the work area first.
Bundles of a few stalks of rosemary first and set the cut end over the wire or twine.
Begin to layer small bunches of other herb selections, lay on top of the rosemary. Continue in this way choosing smaller pieces as you stack on top. In this way a different texture is created with each unique herb.
Finally wrap the wire around the cut end pieces of selected herb branches twice, finishing on the backside of the bundle.
Form a loop of wire with the extended piece you wrapped around the stalks, and secure a tight knot at the base, doing the same with twine to create a circle for hanging.
If giving as gifts of for decorative purposes, you can tie a ribbon around the top end of the bundle.
Easy Steps – For Wreath Making
A similar technique will be used if making fresh herbal wreaths by laying the wreath frame on the work surface.
However, small amounts of herb stalks will be wired in place, rather than bigger bunches of herbs, making it easier to create an even amount of herbs all the way around the entire wreath.
I have found the easy way to secure the herbs is by working with wire I have precut to about 12-inches long, making it easier to wrap around the herb and frame.
You can easily go back and patch any bare spots with short pieces of wire and small sprigs of herbs as needed.
Last But Not Least
Hanging numerous bundles you have made, in a dry place, upside down (which is why the wire hook is created at the end of the cut stems), makes for a decorative way to finish your wrapped packages as an added gift on top of a gift!
While flowers are still blooming at the end of summer, is a great time to cut them with at least 8-inch stems, hang them upside down to dry and use them in your herb bundles when making your swags or wreaths.
As the days grow shorter in September, it is a perfect time to head out for walks in areas you can forage herbs and flowers to use for your project.
I found the best way to keep my cuttings fresh until I was ready to work with them, was to put them all in a huge tub of water.
It helps to hydrate them and remove any small critters hiding inside of them.