A wreath of greenery welcoming visitors to your door at the holidays is a time-honored tradition for many households. Symbolizing strength, hope and new life, wreaths date back at least to the ancient cultures of the Persian Empire. Although pre-made wreaths are sold far and wide, why not have an original, direct-from-your-own-garden version that is fun, quick and easy to put together? Growers with access to grapevines can put together their own base but for the rest of us an inexpensive grapevine wreath can be found at craft stores, often with a 40% off coupon, and can be saved and reused year after year.
Once you have the base you’ll need to gather evergreen branches and things like ivy and mistletoe. Osmanthus heterophyllus (hollyleaf osmanthus) grows easily, if slowly, in Davis and is a great substitute for English holly which does not grow well here. The greens need to be tucked firmly into the base and then secured by wrapping with wire in order to stand up to the door opening and closing. Chose a thin craft wire and wrap using one long piece, circling the wreath. Use a variety of greens or stick to one kind, depending on your preference, but cover the base fairly well so as it dries it will still look full.
Now comes the really fun part! Decorate your wreath to suit your style. Small ornaments, ribbon, dried seed pods, even small fruits like crabapples can be attached. Some berries are poisonous, such as those found on mistletoe so if you have young children you will want to choose different decorations. One of my favorite ideas is to choose a few cuttings from succulents like jade, echeveria or aloe and tuck them in between the evergreens. Succulents will tell your guests that they are not in the snowbelt and therefore can enjoy their holiday visit without worrying about the drive home. That is, unless our infamous tule fog shows up!