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Celebrate the Holidays with Handmade Wreaths and Arrangements

Greet the holiday season and add flare to your festivities by making your own wreaths and floral centerpieces. Creating a beautiful display with twigs, evergreens and berries follows much the same approach as cut flower arrangements. Since evergreens have such strong and sturdy stems a satisfying arrangement can be attained quickly and easily. A display of flowers symbolizes joy and peace during the holidays. The use of evergreens has always been a symbol of eternal life and hope for the future.

Pieces of Interest
When gathering your fresh greens, look closely for things of interest such as new cones forming, variegated leaves, displays of red and yellow berries and twigs that form unique patterns such as Harry Lauders walking stick or curly willows. Stems can be cut any time of day because they are woody and remain fresh for a long time. You may gather your stem cuttings in a basket as they do not have to be immersed in water immediately like tender flowers do.

Container Selection and Arrangement Design
Choose your container according to where you will place the display. Although the vase is not the focal point of your arrangement, you want to be careful that it is complementary. Green flower foam or wet oasis helps the flower stems stay in place once you have positioned them. In addition, it saturates quickly and wicks water to your flowers for the life of the arrangement. With a knife, cut a piece to fit your container and use florist tape (if necessary) to secure it in the container. Do so by wrapping the tape over the foam and down the sides of the container. Finally, cover the foam with water and let it completely absorb into the foam.

Appreciate the unique characteristics of your cuttings and allow them to guide and inspire you. They will help dictate the shape and style of your piece. Begin with your tallest and most significant stems then add smaller ones to fill in. Keep it simple and have fun!

Wreaths
To make a holiday wreath, choose mostly the same sprigs as your centerpiece making sure what you use will remain green and fresh for a long period of time. It is good to experiment to see what lasts best for you. Boxwood, fir, juniper, magnolia, spruce, pine, cedar and holly all hold up very well in a wreath. Just remember you are pruning your plants when you cut. Prune evenly and sparsely so your plants are not damaged. Make your wreath interesting by using evergreens with embellishments such as red berries, variegated leaves, tiny cones, twigs with nuts, seed pods, yellow or silver foliage, bells, and a big bow at the end. Simple techniques will make your wreath look professional.

For the base of your wreath, either a wire or straw frame can be used as they both serve the same purpose: to provide a foundation for your wreath. When using a wire frame, bundles of branches are tied to the frame with floral wire. In contrast, when a straw frame is preferred, wreath pins are used to secure branches snugly to the frame. A straw wreath is easy to find at your local craft supply store. The only tools needed, besides the frame, are pruning shears, wire cutters, green floral wire, wreath pins, and a pair of gloves because most evergreens tend to be prickly.

Putting Your Wreath Together
To begin your wreath, attach a piece of green floral wire around the top of your form; this will be used to hang your wreath on the door. Start at the top with a group of three to five pieces of greenery and lay them flat on the form, needles and leaves facing upward. Place a wreath pin over the stems about one inch from the bottom ends. Collect three to five more pieces and position this set so it overlaps the first piece halfway, much like shingles on a roof. Remember to use different colors and textures in each grouping and work in only one direction covering the frame completely. The stems should always face one way. Repeat these steps until the frame is completely covered and you reach the starting point. Now you can place extra embellishments such as pine cones and twigs with nuts strategically around your wreath with pins. If your embellishments do not have stems, wrap wire around their ends and pin the wire down onto your wreath. Attach a bow to your wreath with floral wire anywhere you like.

Your holiday arranging is an art form, so be self expressive and have fun. Appreciate the unique characteristics of your flowers and twigs so they guide and inspire you. Remember to use different colors and textures. Your handmade decorations will be a vibrant symbol of the holiday season and will give you a tremendous amount of pleasure. Making your own ensures that it is fresh and done with your own personal style.

Get Creative and Have Fun!
Anna Y.
Fairview Greenhouses & Garden Center