December 2013
The Magic of Gardening

Christmas Wreath From Your Yard or Garden

  Eastern red cedar and Leyland cypress are excellent choices for creating your own Christmas wreath. Nandina berries and pine cones are good options for decorating the evergreens.

Making a Christmas wreath is easy, fun and educational. Take your pruners and harvest sprigs of greenery from an Eastern red cedar or Leyland cypress. While you are at it, prune all the dead wood out of the Leyland cypress because, if yours looks anything like the ones around our area, there are likely several dead spots. Look for camellia, magnolia leaves, fruit pods and pine cones. Holly and nandina berries are also good candidates. Be creative and use what you have available that is not poisonous.

To make a holiday wreath, get a vine wreath to be the base for your natural holiday project. If you have access to some muscadine vines, you can harvest your own from the wild or from a vineyard. Those from the wild are great because they are normally very long making for quick work in forming your wreath frame. Make sure you know the wild vines are grapevines since poison ivy and poison oak make vines as well. They are toxic even without the leaves on them.

These grapevine wreaths are a lot easier to work with than you might imagine. Take the bottom third of the foliage off your clippings then push the foliage-free ends through the wreath until they are secure. Progress clockwise around the circle creating fullness in the outside and inside edges. Strive for a full and plump appearance.

Using florist wire available at craft stores, fasten pinecones in clusters of two or three at the 12 or 6 o’clock position on the wreath. Another option that looks great is to position them equal distances apart at about three locations on the wreath.

Making a Christmas wreath is easy, fun and educational. You can find what you need by taking a walk around your yard or in the woods.  

Then add clusters of holly or nandina berries to fill in empty areas and to create a balanced look. The old-fashioned nandina berries really create a visual holiday impact when cascading downward in the center hole of the wreath.

Acorns can make a nice addition to a homemade wreath. The burr oak produces absolutely gigantic acorns perfect for the wreath. These acorns are so large people often bring them in for us to identify. Also, sweetgum balls, which can be a nuisance in the landscape, look great spray-painted with gold paint. Place these all around the wreath for added effect.

Finish the wreath by adding a decorative bow. The finished product will be a sign of welcome to your family and friends over the holidays and will have added significance because you made it yourself. Why not make an extra one to give as a gift because when you start clipping greenery you will quickly get more than you need.

There are many materials perfect for a wreath, and even a beginner can easily complete the project. Take a walk in the yard and woods to start collecting. Let your kids or grandkids help with this fun and easy project.

Tony A. Glover is a County Extension Coordinator in Cullman County.