Years ago, horticulturist Robin Zitter wanted to do something special for her clients at the end of the season. She began crafting, in her own thoughtful way, a wreath made from plants collected in each person’s garden. “A circle represents the cycle of the seasons, the continuity of life,” she says, “It’s a wonderful way to take representative parts of the landscape and make it a whole.
Once she gathered a mix of greens, grasses, twigs and seedpods in one place, she was amazed at how much was out in the landscape. Walking around collecting made her look at things differently and inspired her clients to go out in winter and look around too.
Sometimes she adds extras – fruits and seedpods – for the birds, “so the wreath can become a bird feeder.” (Although deer have waltzed up to the front door and eaten the wreath on occasion).
A robin nested in one client’s wreath before could she could take it down one spring, so remained. Another person hangs each year’s wreath in her barn for the swallows that nest in them – truly completing the cycle of the seasons.
How to Make Your Wreath
- Start with a double wire wreath form – much easier than single rings
- Gather an assortment of greens – broadleafed and needled evergreens in an assortment of colors and textures – for the base.
- Collect anything else that strikes your fancy – twigs, seedpods, dried plants, cones, berries. (Some plants don’t hold up until winter; it’s fair game to collect throughout the year)
- Cut mixed greens to size first before starting, so you can gather little bundles
- Wire little bundles of greens to the wire wreath form, overlapping to cover the wire; Tuck the last bundle under the first one to complete the circle.
- If you intend to hang the wreath on a storm door or window, you’ll be seeing the back. Flip the wreath over and stick in some greens to hide the mechanics – just a few so that it still hangs flat.
- Then flip the wreath back over and add seed pods and fancy things – extra-special holly, PJM rhododendron branches; seedpods might require a glue gun.
- Robin doesn’t decide which is top or bottom until the end – “the wreath tells you.” Then she adds a wire hook and marks it with a ribbon so it doesn’t get lost.
- Trim the inside a bit as needed so the circle in the middle is evident, or the outside if it looks too wild.
Robin likes it kind of wild – “It’s expressive, creative and fun, a personal journey that is different every year.”
- Rose hips (not from invasive multiflora roses)
- Silvery dried sage
- Birch catkins
- Fern spore cases
- Honey locust pods
- Silverbell seed pods
- Lambs ears, Heuchera and Queen Anne’s lace dried in summer