The history of wreathmaking dates back thousands of years.  Round forms decorated with evergreens, berries and pine cones, symbolizing the harvest, are thought to have begun in ancient Rome.  A fall wedding I once did with a decidedly Shakespearean flavor featured wreath shaped headpieces for the bride, and her attendants.  A wreath constructed from fresh and beautiful materials from the garden speaks to the life that persists in spite of the onset of winter.  The wreath pictured above began with an unadorned circle of  the dried branchy stems of sweet huckleberry.  To this I added dry and steamed wood stems and twigs from many other species.  A tuft of dried grass at the bottom doubles as a bow.

2007 Larson, Bonnie Wreath for daughter (2)
I buy my evergreen wreaths already made; a mix of fir, juniper and incense cedar makes for a lively textured base. Lots of natural materials make great decoration for a wreath.  The mushrooms in this wreath are made of tree bark; the giant faux green acorns are a big textured accompaniment to the small brown real ones.  White berry stems cut into pieces, and natural reindeer moss highlight the natural cones. I buy barked wire by the roll, and weave it in and out of the greens. I like some decoration  that stands out and away from the flat circle of greens.  A coppery brown raffia bow completes the look.   


I have a commercial glue gun that I power up with industrial grade hot melt glue.  Scraping cooled blobs of this glue off of my layout table will rip the wood right off the surface; it’s tough stuff. The worst burns I have ever had came from this tool; the hot glue sticks instantly to your skin, and keeps on burning.  I try to remember to keep a glass of cold water on the table big enough to hold my whole hand; this helps a bad burn from becoming a horrendous burn.  The raffia in this wreath is wired to the wreath frame every so often, as are the natural material ornaments.

larsonThe grocery store is a great source for natural materials; you can find cinnamon sticks this time of year in the spice department. Nuts and dried fruits, sprigs of fresh rosemary-all these things look great.  Artichokes and pomogranites are easy to wire and attach fresh, and dry just fine. I avoid piercing any fresh material if I can; there is no need to invite rot. Forest floor litter can be a good source of materials as well-bracket fungus, cones, moss bits and twigs-all these things endow a wreath with a garden feeling.  

Larson_0009Some faux material is too awkward to wire.  In the case of this nest, and the bark birds, I pierce the back of the object, and glue in a florist’s skewer; kitchen skewers would work just as well.  Transparent materials, such as these skeletal leaves, gain visual weight when used in numbers. I can wedge the skewer into the woody branches of the evergreens.  I try not to push the skewer in too far; avoid making your birds look pasted on the greens. Transparent materials, such as these skeletel leaves, gain visual weight when used in numbers; these are wired and glued on a short skewer.  Loose and airy looks good.

Larson4Any faux berry stem needs to be tested for water resistance before it is used.  I learned this the hard way; five window boxes full of white styrofoam berries, gel coated in a clear red acetate, dissolved all over the greens and pavement in front of the store of one of my commercial clients. What a mess. A short piece of  dried kiwi vine chosen for its curl as a loose element to the mix. 

Larson _0003Ornaments made from natural materials are readily available.  As with any ornament or stem, I deconstruct some things so the proportions are good with the size of the wreath.  Sometimes I only need a wedge cut from a ball, or a portion of a stem.  A wreath is a little world that needs to be built accordingly.

Baumgartner (6)When the front door is a long way from the street, a shot of bright red makes a cheery statement from a distance.  Raffia bows have great texture and resilience to the weather.  The worst enemy of any wreath is not snow-it is rain.  A wreath subjected to a lot of rain can have a good bit of its original shape restored. Take the wreath to a dry place, and dry up side down, and face down; gravity will do wonders.

Larson (1)

Our mild November weather right now is perfect for collecting materials outdoors. A wreath on the door is not only a beautiful way to say welcome, it is a way in which to keep on gardening.


  1. Wow, your wreaths are just exquisit!!! I love them all.

Leave a Comment