Get that green house effect with wreaths > I

Wreaths and, for do-it-yourselfers, the makings of wreaths are everywhere.

Fancy greens and embellishments arrived at garden centers and florists, and even at mass merchandisers. Christmas tree lots, where wreath greens are a thriving sideline, are setting up, and soon every supermarket in the land will offer greenery of some stripe.

For some, late November is too soon to hang the fragrant and abundant boughs so evocative of the Christmas Season. But even for those purists, now is the time to at least gather the greenery.

Concerning Christmas trees, the experts offer this advice: Buy one now, make a fresh cut when you get it home and place it in a large container of water in a cool area. Then bring it in a couple of weeks later. If you wait until mid-December to buy it, that same tree will have been in a cold, windy lot, out of water and getting drier by the day.

The same counsel goes for wreath greens. Cut greens can be re-cut and kept in pails of water for a couple of weeks. Although it is impractical to re-cut the stems of ready-made wreaths, soaking the wreaths in water and keeping them in a cool area until ready for use will extend their life as well.

The wreath world falls into two camps. One of them sees the crafting of wreaths as a creative release from the humdrum of daily life, a way to embrace the holiday spirit. The other group sees it as just one more burden of perfection in a harried existence.

The wreath rebels have a couple of choices (three if you include a boycott): Get an artificial wreath (from the tacky at $3.99 to the marvelous at $399) or buy a simple fresh wreath and add the finishing touches yourself.

To a basic wreath of white pine, boxwood or yew, Don Haynie, an herbalist and  florist  expert, suggests adding dried and fresh herbs and some nandina berries. Or adding Spanish moss, sheet moss or lichen called reindeer moss, with some rose hips “and even some pieces of curly willow.

To gild the wreath, he suggests taking some dried yellow yarrow, a summer perennial, and combining it with pine cones and oak leaves that have been pressed and lightly sprayed with gold paint.

However, you can personalize a wreath any way you want. Feel free to forage from your own yard or, with permission, a neighbor’s.

What’s more, no one is stopping you from adding artificial material to the mix. In fact it might be prudent, because live fruit and berries can be notoriously difficult to keep from falling, especially if the wreath is displayed indoors. But do pick good fakes, there is a distinct difference in the look between cheap “berries” and more expensive ones.

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