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A big wreath for a big spot.

"Wreath-making party," reads the invitation. "Bring a hammer!" And when Seattle's Madison Park Garden Club gathers for its annual Christmas event, it sounds more like a barn raising.

These big wreaths, meant for outdoors, are quick and easy to make but require space, power tools, and an ample supply of prunings; joining friends speeds and enlivens the project. The finished wreaths weigh 10 to 20 pounds and last up to a month in Seattle's cool, moist weather, a week or longer in warmer climates.

Each wreath is built on a doughnut-shaped piece of 1/2-inch plywood that measures 4 feet across. A standard 4-by-8 sheet makes two. Use a nail, string, and pencil to draw two 4-foot-diameter circles on the sheet, then draw a 2-foot circle inside each bit circle.

Use an electric dril with a large bit to make a hole through the plywood, then insert the blade of a saber saw to cut the center circle. To camouflage the wood, give cutout forms a light spraying with black or dark green paint.

Gather greens in advance; December is

a good pruning month for many plants

At the party we photographed, everyone brought carloads of prunings; to spur creativity, no conifers were allowed. Your imagination is the limit--try any evergreen. If you use broad-leafed plants, bear in mind that thick, leathery foliage lasts longest: Arbutus unedo, Elaeagnus pungens, eucalyptus, hollies, laurels (English and Portugal), Ligustrum japonicum, live oaks, Magnolia grandiflora, photinias, and raphiolepis are good choices. Berries, fruits, and pods add interest and color.

Select and cut the greens you want (6- to 9-inch lengths are easiest to manage), then lay them around the form, experimenting with patterns. Choose sturdy greens for the backbone of the wreath, less long-lasting plants for accent (you can replace these later if necessary).

You can quickly secure foliage with a heavy-duty staple gun, though thick stems may require small fencing staples and a hammer. Encircle one edge with greens, overlapping the bottom end of one cut green with the top of the next. Encircle the remaining edge, then fill in the center.

As you work, step back to judge composition; tearing off greens that don't quite fit your image and replacing them is part of the fun. You may want to add bows or clusters of ornaments to the finished wreath. Check your results by holding the wreath upright so you can judge how foliage hangs. At the point you want to be the top, put a large eye screw through the back of the form, halfway between the edges; hang with strong wire.
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Date:Dec 1, 1985
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