Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
December, 2007
Regional Report

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Wreaths are easily made with decorations from the garden.

Make Your Own Wreath or Garland

Wreaths and garlands, valance hangings, and table decorations resplendent in fruits and leaves of the season, graced with velvet and ribbons, or simply highlighted with a solitary ornament; these glories are easy to make and wonderful to receive.

In ancient Rome circular wreaths were symbols of victory and celebration. In 16th-century Germany, fir or spruce wreaths were laid flat on a table with a candle lit on the first Sunday of Advent. Today, the wreath symbolizes continuity and tradition.

Evergreen boughs were brought indoors and honored by Druids as sacred plants that didn't die, and hence the house would survive the winter, too. Primitive tribes in Europe hung evergreens above their doors during the winter solstice to offer woodland spirits shelter and, they hoped, bring good fortune and health. Today's garlands continue to brighten our doors and windowsills, mantels and tables.

The Ordinary is Extraordinary
Your creation can be as simple as a bunch of favorite herb branches tied with a ribbon, or as intricate as a large wreath embellished with many sentimental items from a person's lifetime. It can be as fancy or as plain as you like, worked on for weeks or completed on the spur of the moment. It all depends on what you want and what materials you have on hand or make the effort to collect.

Just about every catalog in the mail at this time of year has wreaths or garlands to sell, and many are expensive, when you could make one with just a little bit of effort. While some are exquisitely detailed and beautifully ornamented with craft art pieces and natural materials not found locally, the majority would be inexpensive to make.

Materials can encompass anything you can get your hands on -- from grapevine trimmings off the back fence and herb sprigs from the kitchen garden, to pinecones from an excursion to the foothills, to posies you dried or chile peppers you strung last summer, to ribbons galore from the fabric store.

A great way to find unexpected goodies is to stalk the aisles in craft stores, trying many combinations of textures and colors to see what strikes your fancy. Matching ribbons and other decorations to friends' personalities is always great fun; choose posies for a flower lover, or bicycles or running shoes for a sports person.

Looking at everyday items in a new way can also reveal many possibilities. Green and red bell peppers add holiday colors to a wreath on the front door. An oddly-curled Armenian cucumber or long-necked squash becomes decoration in a table arrangement. A tree ornament becomes special when it's the only one on a wreath hung on a child's door, signifying his or her special place. Anything and everything becomes fair game when it comes to decorating. The essence of creativity is bringing materials together in a new and exciting way. It's all up to you and your innate cleverness and sense of humor.

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