Their holiday wreaths start in the garden Essay

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 canesor king palm fruit stalks.

Early in December, Cas Szukalski of Monte Sereno, California,invites friends to help him prune his grapevines and then make wreathswith the canes; you see the results above and on page 76. In Carlsbad,Eva Shaw gathers king palms’ fallen fruit stalks (or harvests themwith a ladder) to make into wreaths for friends. Forming the wreath Before you start, strip leaves or seeds from prunings. Soak driedmaterial in a solution of warm water and a little liquid dish soap untilpliable, about 12 hours. A wire frame will help flimsy stems hold their shape. Wrap a fewstrands of plant material around the frame; secure ends with shortlengths of wire.

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Continue adding plant material, tucking in ends, untilthe wreath is slightly thicker than you ultimately want (it’llshrink as it dries). Vines with pencil-thick stems don’t needextra support. Use 2- to 5-foot strands (you’ll need 20 to 40,depending on their thickness and the wreath’s size). Coil two orthree 4-foot lengths into a 12- to 16-inch-diameter circle, allowing afew inches of overlap; weave this remaining part in. Add the otherstrands a few at a time, tucking in ends. Bright trimmings from the garden To decorate your wreath, try other natural materials.

Somemild-climate possibilities include berries (nandina, pyracantha,California pepper), small fruits (dwarf pomegranate, calamondin, rosehips), fresh foliage (eucalyptus or oak leaves). In western Oregon andWashington, choices include hawthorn berries, sprigs of English holly orjuniper, 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-lastingplant material such as dwarf pomegranates, pepper berries, and driedflowers; glue pods, seeds, or dried flowers in place. Photo: “Prunings go right from our grapevines into wonderfullygnarled wreaths’ Cas Szukalski, Monte Sereno Photo: “We climb up for the palm fruit stalks . .

. then thewreath-making fun begins’ Eva Shaw, Carlsbad Photo: Bend hanger into circle, leaving hook for hanger. Securestems around hook, then wrap the rest around frame Photo: Palm flower branchlets make an airy wreath for Christmasgiving; eucalyptus pods, buds, and leaves are finishing touches Photo: Grapevine wreath is trimmed with holly sprig, pyracanthaberries, and branch tip (with seed pod) of Southern magnolia Photo: Knobby twigs from Washington palm fruit stalk are decoratedwith oak leaves, maple seeds, everlasting flowers, and teasels

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