"Compete with the holiday bazaars. Come make a wreath!," by The Whistling Gardener

You can tell a lot about a person by the type of wreath they make. Photo courtesy of Sunnyside Nursery.
You can tell a lot about a person by the type of wreath they make. Photo courtesy of Sunnyside Nursery.

This weekly column is being reproduced with the permission of Steve Smith, The Whistling Gardener, and owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville.

My job gets really tough this time of year. Here I am trying to motivate you to get out into the garden and clean up the beds, replant the containers, plunk some bulbs into the ground and spread mulch everywhere to control weeds and insulate the soil and all you are thinking about is the holidays and how you want to decorate the house or which set of in-laws you are going to for Thanksgiving and frankly, gardening is probably one of the farthest things from your mind.

I get it. You have been working your butt off all summer long dragging hoses around the yard and mowing the lawn and you are over it.

So instead of fighting city hall I am going to go with the flow and talk about how we can use our garden to decorate the house for the holidays. More specifically I am talking about making wreaths for the holidays using plant material from your garden.

In two weeks it will be time for my December to do list and I will get everyone back on track then.

Wreath making now a days is a piece of cake. With wreath machines and wire forms it is so easy that you will amaze yourself with your creativity. Your wreath will look nothing like the cookie-cutter ones you see in the stores.

It all starts with a foundation of noble fir and from there you can add your personal touch with twigs and berries and cones and special evergreens either from your garden or from us.

Here at the nursery we offer over 30 different types of evergreens to choose from and countless buckets of twigs, sticks, dried flower heads and seed pods, all collected locally from yards just like yours.

I’ve seen wild and wooly wreaths with curly willow twigs shooting out like bottle rockets and fuzzy buds from the stag horn sumac nestled in amongst the greenery like sleeping elk.

I’ve also seen wreaths that are nice and tidy with perfect symmetry and clean and crisp edges with just a subtle accent of cones.

You can tell a lot about a person by the type of wreath they make.

Once you start making wreaths you begin to look at the landscape in a whole new way. Suddenly what was a bloomed-out perennial ready for deadheading is a treasured prize for your next wreath.

Even a noxious weed like Scotch Broom offers a unique texture to a holiday wreath and I can guarantee that you will never see Scotch Broom in a store-bought wreath.

Berries from Nandina along with its feathery foliage are also wonderful additions to a wreath

The possibilities are endless and that is what makes it all so much fun. Even just collecting these plants and making an arrangement next to the front door will work wonders towards creating a holiday feeling.

Making wreaths is a great way to reconnect with nature this time of year. It’s a chance to re-purpose your plants and give them one more time in the spot light before they are relegated to the compost heap.

It’s an opportunity to spend some quality time with family and friends and build a tradition that will last for years.

You’ll come away with much more than a decoration for your front door. You’ll gain a better appreciation for the bounty of the northwest and create a memory to look forward to this time next year

Steve Smith is owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and can be reached online at

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