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Wreath makers are feeling the holiday crunch this year thanks to climate change

A wreath hangs on a wood-paneled wall, next to a window. Outside, daylight filters in and there is snow on the ground.
Elodie Reed
Vermont Public
A handmade wreath from West Lane Flowers in Colchester in December 2022.

Wreath makers in Vermont are in the thick of the pre-Thanksgiving rush. Last year, a late first frost made trouble for the industry. But one seller in the Northeast Kingdom says things are looking much better this year.

People have been making wreaths in Vermont for a long time. It's a good way to earn some extra cash when the growing season slows down.

A lot of customers want wreaths by Thanksgiving. But as human caused climate change pushes the first frost back, it's making it hard for the industry to meet its deadlines.

More from Vermont Public: Later frosts spell trouble for wreath makers. Some say more research could help them adapt

That's because Balsam fir trees don't set their needles until after the first hard frost. This year, it came on Halloween — still late, but better than last year.

The freeze-free part of the year in Vermont is now about a week longer on average than it was in the 1970s.

Peggy Day Gibson owns Northeast Kingdom Balsam in Glover:

"You know, I'm collecting wreaths and they all look wonderful. And the brush looks great. And the fact that it got cold and stayed cold and we had continuous frost, hard frost — that was good," Day Gibson says.

More from Vermont Public: Green Mountain National Forest is now issuing permits so you can cut your own Christmas tree

"If it was cut Nov. 1 or later, the brush looks great. And in fact, all the rain this summer made the brush pretty good," Day Gibson says.

Still, Thanksgiving falls early this year, and Peggy says that means makers and sellers like her are feeling crunched for time to meet their customers' demand.

Day Gibson says fewer people are making wreaths than in past decades, which can also make it hard to meet customer demand.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or contact reporter Abagael Giles:


Abagael is Vermont Public's climate and environment reporter, focusing on the energy transition and how the climate crisis is impacting Vermonters — and Vermont’s landscape.

Abagael joined Vermont Public in 2020. Previously, she was the assistant editor at Vermont Sports and Vermont Ski + Ride magazines. She covered dairy and agriculture for The Addison Independent and got her start covering land use, water and the Los Angeles Aqueduct for The Sheet: News, Views & Culture of the Eastern Sierra in Mammoth Lakes, Ca.
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