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Their holiday wreaths start in the garden.

Their holiday wreaths start in the garden

Winter prunings lend themselves to handsome, long-lasting wreaths. Brightened with berries or fruits, fresh foliage, or dried flowers, their rustic framework takes on a festive look to suit the season.

You can use any supple plant material, such as honeysuckle, ivy, weeping birch, eucalyptus, wisteria, or--as shown here-- grapevine canes or king palm fruit stalks.

Early in December, Cas Szukalski of Monte Sereno, California, invites friends to help him prune his grapevines and then make wreaths with the canes; you see the results above and on page 76. In Carlsbad, Eva Shaw gathers king palms' fallen fruit stalks (or harvests them with a ladder) to make into wreaths for friends.

Forming the wreath

Before you start, strip leaves or seeds from prunings. Soak dried material in a solution of warm water and a little liquid dish soap until pliable, about 12 hours.

A wire frame will help flimsy stems hold their shape. Wrap a few strands of plant material around the frame; secure ends with short lengths of wire. Continue adding plant material, tucking in ends, until the wreath is slightly thicker than you ultimately want (it'll shrink as it dries). Vines with pencil-thick stems don't need extra support. Use 2- to 5-foot strands (you'll need 20 to 40, depending on their thickness and the wreath's size). Coil two or three 4-foot lengths into a 12- to 16-inch-diameter circle, allowing a few inches of overlap; weave this remaining part in. Add the other strands a few at a time, tucking in ends.

Bright trimmings from the garden

To decorate your wreath, try other natural materials. Some mild-climate possibilities include berries (nandina, pyracantha, California pepper), small fruits (dwarf pomegranate, calamondin, rose hips), fresh foliage (eucalyptus or oak leaves). In western Oregon and Washington, choices include hawthorn berries, sprigs of English holly or juniper, Skimmia japonica, salal, and Daphne odora. Or use dried seeds, pods, or flowers.

Tuck stems of fresh leaves, berries, and flowers into the wreath (most choices listed above will dry and discolor in a week or so); replace as needed. Use raffia or wire to tie on stems of longer-lasting plant material such as dwarf pomegranates, pepper berries, and dried flowers; glue pods, seeds, or dried flowers in place.

Photo: "Prunings go right from our grapevines into wonderfully gnarled wreaths'

Cas Szukalski, Monte Sereno

Photo: "We climb up for the palm fruit stalks . . . then the wreath-making fun begins'

Eva Shaw, Carlsbad

Photo: Bend hanger into circle, leaving hook for hanger. Secure stems around hook, then wrap the rest around frame

Photo: Palm flower branchlets make an airy wreath for Christmas giving; eucalyptus pods, buds, and leaves are finishing touches

Photo: Grapevine wreath is trimmed with holly sprig, pyracantha berries, and branch tip (with seed pod) of Southern magnolia

Photo: Knobby twigs from Washington palm fruit stalk are decorated with oak leaves, maple seeds, everlasting flowers, and teasels
COPYRIGHT 1984 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Dec 1, 1984
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