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Vermont Garden Journal: Deck The Halls With These Holiday Wreath Ideas

While evergreens are the traditional material used in holiday wreath making, there are other materials to try.

One symbol representing the holidays is a wreath. The word “wreath” derives from the ancient English word meaning "to twist." Ancient Greeks and Romans used wreaths as a head dress to symbolize one's status in society. Pagans used evergreen boughs in wreaths to symbolize the strength of life during the dark days of winter. Christians saw the circular wreath as a symbol of eternal life.

Today, wreaths now decorate doors and windows as a welcoming sign of the holidays. While evergreens are the traditional material used in wreath-making, there are other materials to try.

Instead of evergreens, make the base of your wreath deciduous tree twigs or vines. Using birch, willow, grape or other flexible branches, wrap them around a metal ring as your base material. Then add holly berries, crabapples, evergreen leaves, oak leaves and even milkweed pod fluff to accent your wreath.

Indian corn ears are available and make a great holiday wreath. Encircle your metal wreath ring with various colored Indian corn ears with their husks pulled back. Have all the ears pointing towards the center with the husks around the edge. Not only is this attractive, birds and squirrels may enjoy the feast as well. You can make a similar wreath using small gourds, mini pumpkins or acorns attached to the ring.

Decorate your circular ring with dried flowers, such as yarrow and strawflowers. These plants will last well into winter. Don't get stuck on having your wreath be full either. Create wreaths with a minimalist look of a metal circle and just a touch of greenery or flowers for accent.

Finally, forgo the wreath idea all together and bunch ornamental grasses, such as Northern oat grass, into swags to hang on your door.

Now for this week's tip: keep your Paperwhite narcissus bulbs dwarf by forcing them in a five percent alcohol solution instead of water. That means diluting a 40 percent alcohol-containing liquor with seven parts water. It won't harm the flowers, but it will keep the flower stalks short.

Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.
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