This is the time of year when homes, stores and entire city blocks are decorated with snowflakes, stars, bells, garlands, poinsettia plants, evergreen trees, wreaths, and blooming Christmas cactus.
Holiday wreaths, garlands and decorative boughs can be made of ordinary materials such as felt cutouts, ribbon and tree branches or precious items such as the diamond and ruby studded Christmas wreath that sold for over $4 million last Christmas.
The circular shape of the Christmas wreath has the same significance as wedding bands, with the circle representing eternity or the unending circle of life. Evergreen tree branches, most often used to make wreaths symbolize growth and everlasting life.
Jerry Clouse, owner of Twin Pines evergreen farm in Muskogee said, “We grow the French Scotch Pine and the Belgian Scotch Pine trees. They are called Legend Trees because the central stem signifies God and the second stalk is Jesus. Then the branches coming up are the five branches of heaven.”
Clouse who has been growing trees on his land on West Smith Ferry RD for seven years said the types of trees he grows are easier for allergy and asthma sufferers to have in the house.
“Every tree we have is available for $35 and an armful or two of branches to make wreaths is $5,” said Clouse.
Scotch, Belgian or Scots pine, Pinus Sylvestris, has a wide native range from the Iberian peninsula and Scotland to the Far East and from Scandinavia to Asia minor.
A wreath at the front door is a symbol of welcome, a wreath with 5 candles is a symbol of the weeks of Advent that lead to Christmas. One Advent wreath candle is lit every week and the central one is lit on Christmas.
A simple, traditional, wreath can be made of evergreen twigs attached into a circular shape held together with wire or ties. Pinecones and a bow can be attached or glued on to complete the traditional look.
Other ideas include making a wreath from little foil covered boxes usually used to decorate a tree. Hot glue the tiny packages to a wire or grapevine form and finish the wreath with a red, green or gold bow.
Wreath forms can be made from a wire coat hanger, with the curved part that usually goes over the clothes pole being used as the wreath hanger. Glue or attach Christmas ornaments, painted pine cones and winter berries to the wire, and make a bow large enough to cover the hanger.
To use fresh boughs, a double wire or circular foam form works to hold the weight. Attach a small cluster of boughs together with florist wire then attach the cluster to the frame. Wire decorations such as Christmas tree balls, bells, cinnamon sticks, berries, etc. between each cluster of pine twigs as you work your way around the form. Add a bow and hang it where you can enjoy the scent.
Wreath bows are often made with wire-edged holiday ribbon so they are easier to shape for the top or the bottom of the wreath but there are many creative options.
Some ideas for greenery from around the garden or yard, consider Barberry, Boxwood, Fern, Hemlock, Holly, Juniper Magnolia, Laurel, Oregon Grape Holly, Rhododendron, Spruce, Cedar, and Pine.
Non-traditional but equally pretty choices include Ferns, Viburnum, Heavenly Bamboo, Euonymous ivy, etc. Prune the branches evenly and take only a little from each side. If children or pets will have access to the wreath, know what you are cutting and make sure it is non-toxic (see http://hort.li/1D0G).
After the greenery, berries and pine cones are cleaned and dry, they can be lightly sprayed with glycerin-water solution or hairspray to preserve them and reduce air pollution (see http://hort.li/1D0F.