Get that green house effect with wreaths > II

The faux route > Some artificial wreaths are still indescribably cheap looking, but in general the makers of faux wreaths have raised the standard in the past three years.

The faux offerings include a spruce wreath that has subtle differences in tones of green and a white pine wreath that includes the brown needles one associates with pines at this time of year.

A fresh, conditioned wreath may remain that way for two to three weeks indoors, its decline is hastened in hot, dry rooms and near fireplaces or heating registers and by a lack of sealant. If you want a fresh wreath for a party in early December, consider replacing it near Christmas with another you have purchased early and kept cool.

You can find wreath frames that will keep live greens watered, but generally those are not found in ready-made wreaths. Haynie says one of the most effective forms is a ring of Oasis foam that is moistened and then wrapped.

It is also worth noting that a fresh wreath sandwiched between a door and a glazed storm door will cook in its own greenhouse. Put it on the outer door or to the side.

On wreaths > A wreath loses its cheer once the needles curl and the berries start to fall. Keep it fresh with these steps:

  • Cut greenery now before it dries in the cold December winds. Or buy it early before it dries out on store shelves. Hose the greens well and keep them in plastic trash bags in a cold room until needed. The day before use, re-cut the stems and soak for several hours in warm water.
  • Soak a ready-made wreath and store it in a plastic bag, as with fresh greens, until time to decorate and hang. Soak and allow to drain before use.
  • Deciduous holly (sometimes called ilex) berries hold up well, especially if the stems are stored in water before use. American holly soon dries and drops its berries unless treated: Remove the leaves and spray the berries with a florist’s glaze. Allow to dry and repeat three times.
  • Dried or fresh, herbs add fragrance and natural beauty to wreaths. Buy young fresh herbs in small pots, shake off much but not all of the soil, place the root ball in a small sandwich bag secured with a rubber band, and work the plant into the wreath in a way that hides the bag. Lavender, rosemary, sage and tarragon are all good candidates for this. Check their root balls weekly and add more water to the bag if needed.