My husband and I celebrated Thanksgiving in Northern California with three of our children and our granddaughter. As we left for home on December 1, the deciduous trees were just past their colorful fall prime. The maple tree across from my son's home was still a brilliant red.
What a contrast to the scene as we arrived home. Thankfully, I had put up the Christmas lights before we left. However, my fall decorations were still up and seemed so out of place. I couldn't wait to toss the pumpkins and take down the fall wreaths.
Although the Christmas tree is symbolic of Christmas, wreaths are appropriate for any season or holiday. Consider wreaths for spring, Easter, summer, Independence Day, fall, Halloween, Thanksgiving, winter, Advent, Christmas and Valentine's Day. Wreaths can adorn any part of your home, inside or out.
The use of wreaths goes back to ancient cultures such as Persia, Rome and Greece. They were called diadems and worn on the head to symbolize royalty. Wreaths made of laurel or olive leaves were given as prizes in the Greek Olympics. The head wreath became symbolic of military astuteness and athletic ability. Julius Caesar was crowned with a wreath of fresh laurel. Eventually diadems became crowns, a word that comes from the Latin, corona, which means garland or wreath.
The wreath has a symbolic meaning for the Christmas season. The circular shape represents eternity, for it has no beginning or end. For Christians, it represents the unending circle of life. At Christmas, the wreath is commonly made of evergreens that symbolize growth and everlasting life. Thorny holly branches represent the crown of thorns that Jesus wore and the red holly berries symbolize his blood shed for us.
Today we use wreaths for holiday adornments, front door decorations and centerpieces. There are many wreath styles, including dried flower, harvest, herbal, evergreen, fresh floral or fabric. Quite a number of years ago we were creating wreaths with plastic bags! The base is the most important part and depends on the style you want. Bases may be made of grapevine, willow, twiggy branches, straw, Styrofoam, wire and moss. When choosing a base you must consider how the decorative elements will be
attached, how heavy they are and whether the base will be allowed to show.
You can certainly purchase a wreath that is ready to hang up. Check for quality, sturdiness and fullness. If there are not enough items adorning it or they are of poor quality, purchase additional items and attach them to the wreath.
I prefer to purchase the bases only and create my own decorative wreath. At Christmas, I especially like flocked white evergreen wreaths. The Boy Scouts used to sell some that would last for two years if I stored them carefully. I have a collection of cones, bows and colorful decorations to adorn the bases. Sometimes I insert clippings from the arborvitae and juniper in my yard to make green wreaths fuller. Red dogwood stems and crabapple branches with tiny red apples add color and hold up well in outdoor wreaths. In February, I exchange the Christmas decorations on the white wreath for valentine hearts.
Dried flowers, grasses and herbs make beautiful wreaths. Gather items all year long such as lavender, roses, statice, hydrangea, peonies, poppy pods and gomprena. They all dry easily or are available in flower and hobby shops. Use both filler and focus flowers, attaching light flowers with tacky glue and the heavier ones with hot glue. Sometimes it works best to wire a small bouquet together before attaching it to the base. You can glue on sphagnum moss to hide the base if you wish.
If you use silk flowers, it is easy to change them out from the base so that the wreath is appropriate for several occasions. Cut individual flower stems from a bunch and sort into various lengths. Insert the main focal flowers around the wreath in a clockwise direction. Allow the top flower to stick out a little while the others tilt slightly down and close to the base. At this point, you may wish to add a bow and loosely wrap a length of ribbon in and out of the base, tying it down in several places with half of a pipe cleaner. Continue to add the filler flowers letting a few extend out past the outside and inside of the base. Do the same with filler berries. Add final embellishments, such as pods, flags, balls, cones, etc. into the empty spaces.
Decorate fall wreaths with fruit, vegetables, nuts, berries, leaves or wheat heads. Attach larger items by first drilling a hole in them. Next hot glue a 3-inch dowel at both ends and insert one end in the item and the other into the wreath base.
I have not tried a living wreath made of fresh flowers or succulents, but they sound very interesting. Wrap sheet moss around a cupped wire wreath base and fill with potting soil. Hold it all together by winding floral wire around it. Insert annual seedlings such as impatiens and petunias or succulents into the soil and allow the wreath to remain on a flat surface until the plants are well rooted. Soak the wreath daily in a garbage can lid and hang it up.
Whatever your choice of wreath, artificial, natural or some of each, it can enhance your home both indoors and out for every season or occasion.
Breitling is a longtime
West Fargo resident and
avid gardener always in
search of new ideas.