Master Gardener: Use Your Talent and Creativity with On-Site Grown Wreaths | House and garden

Don’t you just love this time of year? While we still have the heat of the day, the nights are getting colder. The sky turns golden and the sounds of the day seem softened by the cooler temperatures, especially after the long heat of summer. This is the moment when my creative heart turns into wreaths for every door and gate!

I feel compelled to celebrate the transition from summer to fall harvest with all of its color and glory! I sound like a revivalist, and maybe there’s a little bit to me as I rekindle the tradition of covering our doors to welcome friends and family. We all know fall is a good time to prune shrubs, so why not make wreaths out of the clippings instead of filling your can with green waste? Using wire cutters and long-handled pruning shears, inspect the area for probable materials. I even check the neighborhood (asking permission first, of course!).

Keep in mind that you can make wreaths, tinsel, or garlands with your finds, so cut a length a little longer than you think you need. You might have a theme as you roam around looking for probable materials, but if you’re like me, you might like to work ‘on the fly’. I prefer to work with the available materials as I find them. It gives me a more creative license to weave together this year’s “look”.

Think of acacia flower buds with their gray feathery foliage. They are so graceful with movement. Toyon, full of red autumn berries, or pyracantha (beware – thorns!), Or nandina are winners for a door wreath. The wax leaf privet has purple berries and mixes elegantly with eucalyptus and silver citrus leaves or kumquat branches with the fruit still in place.

Don’t let your imagination stop there! Consider all the beautiful fall branches turning shades of red or gold. Fodder for branches and pods. For the greenery: grevilleas, conifers and magnolias. What about long rosehip runners (thorns can be cut) with rose hips? Balls of thorny seeds of sycamore or liquid amber, natural or sprayed with silver or gold paint. Fresh bay leaves or cinnamon sticks add a scent note to your masterpiece.

Take a test walk to look for good mixes. Then cut and collect. Once you’ve exhausted your own garden of available materials, go visit friends to “shop” for the clippings. To get yourself off to a good start, have a few things ready. Fill a bucket with water and add a cup of sprite or lemon-lime soda (no diet here, cuts need sugar), ½ teaspoon of bleach and 1 tbsp of lemon juice for every gallon of water. This will serve as a preservative for your cuttings. As soon as you have a mowing, water it to remove any dirt or bugs, then insert the stem into the bucket of preservative first and let the foliage dry. If the stems are woody, crush the ends well with a hammer so that the stems can absorb their stored food. Greens should sit and sip from their buckets overnight (better) or at least several hours.

If you have a crown shape – whether it’s yarn, straw, or styrofoam, this job may be easier to mold your shape. Don’t forget to put on your gloves! Also have floral thread or fishing line and a glue gun. Start by securing the larger, heavier greenery first. Then start layering and filling in the spaces with small branches, leaves, twigs, berries, pine cones, nuts, moss, or even fruit (real or plastic). Add some ribbon and voila, you’ve created a masterpiece!

Weave and mix as you wish. Let your imagination fly to create a wonderful fall welcome in your home!

Call us: Tulare County Master Gardeners: (559) 684-3325, Tuesday and Thursday, 9:30 am-11:30am

Instagram at: @mgtularekings

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