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Make wreaths and memories

This winter container is something that can be created for holiday decorations. (Submitted photos / Pam Baytos)

There are many things in life we learn from our mothers. A favorite thing I learned from mine is wreath-making.

My mother has always (in my lifetime anyway) created beautiful, sturdy wreaths from natural materials for holiday decorating. I don’t know if her skill comes from natural talent or her many years in her village garden club, but her wreaths have always been lovely.

After gathering many materials from our yard or rural property, she would be ready to make Christmas wreaths. Long before craft stores stocked piles of grapevine wreath bases, my mother created her own.

She would cut and gather grapevines from our property and make wreath bases by soaking the vines until pliable, then wrapping them in and around each other to form a wreath shape. She would then secure the ends with wire. Sometimes more grapevines would be added to tighten the base and improve the shape.

She enjoyed using pine cones in her Christmas wreaths. Once she cut slices from the base of pine cones to create disks, drilled the bases, then glued and inserted sticks to use in place of flowers in wreaths or arrangements.

She would create clusters of small pine cones by wiring them together on long floral picks then wedge in the wreath. She learned these techniques before craft store glue guns were available to stick pine cones quickly and easily in place.

My favorite is her pine cone wreath. She made this sturdy wreath by wiring the base of each pine cone by threading it through the seed scales until the wire was tight, then wiring each pine cone to a wire wreath frame. Once the base was covered tightly with cones of varying sizes to fill up the space, she attached clusters of buckeyes and walnuts in which she had drilled holes then threaded with wire.

Finally, she sprayed the finished wreath with clear lacquer to preserve it. Once it was dried, she added small bunches of white pine bundled together with floral picks and finished it with a red bow.

This pine cone wreath won blue ribbons at several county Christmas flower shows over the years. She would add new clusters of dried materials or fresh holly and pine to make it “new.” Several years ago, when downsizing, she gave it to me.

Now I “spruce” it up for Christmas. I now use it outside to greet people coming on the porch. Over the years, a few of the cones have lost some seed scales and gotten a little soft. Not bad for a 48-year-old! If only we could all age as well.

Make this the year you deck your halls with nature’s bounty and a handcrafted heirloom wreath from your backyard. Learn some floral techniques at one of Mahoning Extensions popular holiday workshops.

For details on building a wreath, visit https://go.osu.edu/greenwreaths or watch this video: https://go.osu.edu/naturalwreath.

Cubick is an Ohio State University Extension Master Gardener Volunteer in Mahoning County.

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