Their holiday wreaths start in the garden
Winter prunings lend themselves to handsome, long-lasting wreaths.
Brightened with berries or fruits, fresh foliage, or dried flowers,
their rustic framework takes on a festive look to suit the season.
You can use any supple plant material, such as honeysuckle, ivy,
weeping birch, eucalyptus, wisteria, or–as shown here– grapevine canes
or king palm fruit stalks.
Early in December, Cas Szukalski of Monte Sereno, California,
invites friends to help him prune his grapevines and then make wreaths
with the canes; you see the results above and on page 76. In Carlsbad,
Eva Shaw gathers king palms’ fallen fruit stalks (or harvests them
with a ladder) to make into wreaths for friends.
Forming the wreath
Before you start, strip leaves or seeds from prunings. Soak dried
material in a solution of warm water and a little liquid dish soap until
pliable, about 12 hours.
A wire frame will help flimsy stems hold their shape. Wrap a few
strands of plant material around the frame; secure ends with short
lengths of wire. Continue adding plant material, tucking in ends, until
the wreath is slightly thicker than you ultimately want (it’ll
shrink as it dries). Vines with pencil-thick stems don’t need
extra support. Use 2- to 5-foot strands (you’ll need 20 to 40,
depending on their thickness and the wreath’s size). Coil two or
three 4-foot lengths into a 12- to 16-inch-diameter circle, allowing a
few inches of overlap; weave this remaining part in. Add the other
strands a few at a time, tucking in ends.
Bright trimmings from the garden
To decorate your wreath, try other natural materials. Some
mild-climate possibilities include berries (nandina, pyracantha,
California pepper), small fruits (dwarf pomegranate, calamondin, rose
hips), fresh foliage (eucalyptus or oak leaves). In western Oregon and
Washington, choices include hawthorn berries, sprigs of English holly or
juniper, Skimmia japonica, salal, and Daphne odora. Or use dried seeds,
pods, or flowers.
Tuck stems of fresh leaves, berries, and flowers into the wreath
(most choices listed above will dry and discolor in a week or so);
replace as needed. Use raffia or wire to tie on stems of longer-lasting
plant material such as dwarf pomegranates, pepper berries, and dried
flowers; glue pods, seeds, or dried flowers in place.
Photo: “Prunings go right from our grapevines into wonderfully
Cas Szukalski, Monte Sereno
Photo: “We climb up for the palm fruit stalks . . . then the
wreath-making fun begins’
Eva Shaw, Carlsbad
Photo: Bend hanger into circle, leaving hook for hanger. Secure
stems around hook, then wrap the rest around frame
Photo: Palm flower branchlets make an airy wreath for Christmas
giving; eucalyptus pods, buds, and leaves are finishing touches
Photo: Grapevine wreath is trimmed with holly sprig, pyracantha
berries, and branch tip (with seed pod) of Southern magnolia
Photo: Knobby twigs from Washington palm fruit stalk are decorated
with oak leaves, maple seeds, everlasting flowers, and teasels