Christmas Wreaths and Swags

Winterberry Wreath – While making a wreath from Ilex verticillata is both expensive (if you have to buy the stems) and time consuming, the end result is absolutely spectacular. You’ll need waxed cord (to tie the stems in), a metal wreath frame and between 20 to 40 stems (18″ long) of Winterberry, depending on wreath size. After Christmas be sure to leave it out in the garden for the birds, who will quickly strip the berries as a cold-weather snack.

Mixed Greens Wreath – The greens used in this display included a base of white cedar (Thuja occidentalis), contrasted with blue Chamaecyparis and gold-banded Thuja plicata ‘Zebrina’ cuttings. A generous show of gold variegated English Holly (Ilex aquifolium) overlaid the base and was accented with artificial berries (the real English holly berries don’t last as well), a pine cone and red bow. The spaghnum wreath core was also plastic-wrapped to prevent water damage to the door or wall surface.

Noble Swag – This is an easy holiday project to tackle and you can utilize the branches you cut off the bottom of your Christmas tree in order to accommodate all those presents. You’ll need three Noble Fir (Abies procera) branches wired together in a fan shape, with a large red bow and pair of massive Sugar Pine cones rounding out the display. Some other good branch choices include Scotch Pine (Pinus sylvestris) and Colorado Blue Spruce (Picea pungens f. glauca).

Pussy Willow Wreath – This wreath is prepared well in advance (in spring) with live pussy willow branches (about 12-18″ long) being hand tied (with waxed cord) to a wire frame and allowed to dry in place – be sure to allow the tips to protrude. Closer to Christmas, these are augmented with some fresh greens, bows and pine cones to add a little contrast. Suitable willow species include Salix discolor (pussy willow) and Salix g. ‘Melanostachys’ (black pussy willow).

Succulent Wreath – The wreath shown was commercially produced – with most of these using coloured succulents such as Crassula, Sedum, Aeonium, Echeveria and Kalanchoe. You can create your own (well in advance) by taking succulent cuttings (allow the cuts to dry) and inserting them into a well-soaked sphagnum moss wreath, using a screwdriver as a dibble. The cuttings can also be held in place (while they root) using small U-shaped metal pins.

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