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This year's wreath.  Photo by Stibolt.
This year's Christmas wreath hangs on
a window frame next to the front door.

The Recycled Christmas Wreath
by Ginny Stibolt

For the past two years the UPS man has delivered a new Christmas wreath-a gift from my daughter.  When my new wreath came this year, I decided to create an approximate match using the metal frame and trimmings I'd saved from last year's wreath.

Last January I pulled the faded greens from the wreath and used them as path mulch.  The balsam fir has a lasting fragrance and for months whenever I walked over that section of the path, I was reminded of Christmas and my daughter's thoughtfulness.

The other day I took my wheelbarrow, loppers, and clippers on a collecting trip around the yard.  I'd been planning this, so I'd purposely let some pine seedlings grow in the front meadow.  I'd also left some of the of the sweet bay magnolia suckers and crossing branches of the southern magnolias to harvest for the wreath.  I trimmed back some wax myrtle branches-we have it growing in a number of areas around our lot and it grows quickly so there was no need for planning.  I picked up a large clump of mistletoe that had come down in the high winds as a storm front passed over and then collected some grasses and spent flowers. 

As I rambled through the meadows, I was reminded of a Bill Geist piece on CBS's Sunday Morning program a few years ago when he took the advice of Martha Stewart to collect makings for a wreath from your yard.  He ended up with sticks, various pieces of litter, a tree-shaped, pine-scented car freshener, and other assorted junk to use for his wreath.  Remembering this made me smile as I collected my more traditional wreath materials.

<< A wheelbarrow full of wreath-making materials including mistletoe(Phoradendron leucarpum), sweet bay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana), southern magnolia (M. grandiflora), wax myrtles (aka southern bayberry) (Myrica cerifera), loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) both branches and seedlings, unidentified composite flowers (aka dyc's or damn yellow composites), and several types of grass stalks.  This may look like too much to populate one wreath, but I actually had to go back out and collect more pine and wax myrtle.  I didn't use the mistletoe or the southern magnolia for the wreath, but they'll wind up as inside holiday decor.

I brought my collected greens into the garage, cleared off my work table, and laid out the wire wreath frame.  I removed the bow and the lichen, which was totally dead and powdery after a year in the garage.  I then gathered small bunches of pine and wax myrtle branches to thread through two of the openings where the bent wires attach to the frame.  The branches all go in the same direction, and when I completed the circle the stems were covered as they overlapped the previous branches.  I held the wreath up to the light and filled in the thin spots. After the basic greens were done, I inserted the sweet bay magnolia suckers around the inside of the wreath and stuck in several bunches of grass stalks with star-like spiky bracts.  Then I bent the wires holding the pinecones and fake berries, which were still attached to the frame, on top of the greens, re-attached the bow at the top, and hung it on the window frame next to the front door.  I think it looks pretty good.  What do you think?

The leftover hardware and trimmings from last year's Christmas wreath. Photo by Stibolt

I gathered several twigs of pine and wax myrtles. Photo by Stibolt.

I slipped the bottoms of the twigs into two slots for the best stability.  Photo by Stibolt.

A newly re-greened Christmas wreath.  Photo by Stibolt.

In looking at this year's wreath, I'll add some more pinecones and berries to fill it out when I recycle it next year.  Actually, I think I'll dress it up this year because my recycled wreath is more interesting.

I wish you and your family a merry Christmas and a happy, greener new year.

For more information on the history of wreaths and more, see an article I wrote called, The Myths of Mistletoe and Magnolia.


Ginny Stibolt would like to hear from readers who have suggestions and questions. After all, there are more than a few transplanted gardeners Florida trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t in planting zone 8/9. She's wrote, "Sustainable Gardening for Florida," published by University Press of Florida that was released in 2009. Now she's written "Organic Methods for Growing Vegetables in Florida" with Melissa Contreras in Miami. The new book will be released in Feb 2013. You may contact her or read extra details on her articles and other information posted on her website: www.greengardeningmatters.com.

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