Compostable Christmas: How to Make A Winter Wreath From Local Greenery

Are you fed up with the ongoing accumulation of holiday decorations? Does the idea of tossing items into the compost rather than adding another box to storage after the New Year’s sound appealing? Do you love the smell of pine trees? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions then consider exploring the use of local greenery to decorate this holiday season.

From garlands for front door, mantles, and gates to wreaths for festive tables or gifts, the possibilities are endless and can be easily created from basic varieties of traditional greenery that is found locally. The beautiful evergreen stems of Douglas Fir, Redwood, Coastal Cypress, and Spruce are just a few examples of what could be growing in your own backyard. Small clippings of silvery leaves from Laurels, Eucalyptus, Rosemary, and Olive can add texture to homemade designs. For decorative details, there are options such as Rose Hips, Juniper stems with small cones, flowers from Coyote Bush, flowering purple Heather, and beautiful red Pyracantha berries.

If you’re new to braiding together these branches, florals and berries, then consider signing up for one of the several wreath making workshops around town during the season to gain skills. Marin’s Indian Valley Farm and Garden has in the past offered courses taught by Rebecca Hoehn on the techniques of wreath construction. Participants get a chance to create a personalized holiday wreath from wild and cultivated botanicals with Marin master gardeners on hand to share their wreath making experience and support. “The Holiday Wreath Making is an opportunity to learn about native ornamental plants, wild blooms, greens and grasses in an enjoyable, social, real farm setting,” said Gael Perrin, a Marin Master Gardener of the course. “Sip hot cider as you browse the just harvested materials, feeling, smelling and imagining a holiday wreath that expresses your inner holiday spirit.”

Making a wreath is actually quite simple but finding great materials requires some work. Taking a workshop makes it easy to not only borrow the basic tools (green 22 gauge wire, 10-12 inch green wire round form, and a pair of gardening shears with wire cutters) but organizers provide a huge variety of materials so you just have to let the creativity flow. You will feel confident in your skills quickly, and all season long you can continue making beautiful decorations from recycled tree trimmings or pruning scraps from your yard. The exciting trend can continue all year long if you consider daisy chain fashion accessories for Easter, a string of marigolds for Day of the Dead, or a sunflower garlands for Thanksgiving.

If you want to create your own at home, here’s a quick how-to:

Happy (Marin County) Winter Wreath

  • You will need a roll of green 22 gauge wire, 10-12 inch green wire round form, and a pair of gardening shears with wire cutter.
  • Gather a small bouquet of greenery and wire them into a bunch.
  • Wire the bunch to the metal round form and pull tightly.
  • Wrap a few times to make sure they are secure.
  • Gather another bunch and lay it on to the other bouquet in a shingle style.
  • Wrap the wire again several times tightly.
  • Continue around the form and pull the first bunch forward slightly to slip in the final bouquet.
  • Create a hanging loop with the wire and clip.
  • Stand back to admire the wreath and notice any strangling pieces that need trimming or holes that need filing.
  • Hang up and enjoy!

Pamela Coddington is a Marin resident who is interested in exploring the environmental effects of our everyday decisions. On Twitter @CitizenBotanist