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Debra Prinzing
Photographs Debra Prinzing & Anne K Moore

Wreaths are a timeless way to celebrate and decorate the home, indoors or outdoors. The old English definition of a wreath is a "circular band of flowers, foliage, or any ornamental work for adorning the head or for any decorative purpose; a garland or chaplet."

Used since ancient times, circles of flowers and herbs crowned the heads of warriors and maidens. Garlands of greenery embellished and encircled the dinner table. And when shaped into a circle or oval, that garland becomes a wreath - a symbol of hospitality, seasonal bounty and optimism.

Today's wreaths express these same sentiments, not just for the holidays, but for every occasion.

Fresh wreaths can be fashioned from a wide array of materials. While evergreens are traditional at the holidays, there are many other choices. The wreath you hang from the front door or over a fireplace should reflect your personal style and aesthetic.

Good news: America's flower farmers are harvesting an inspiring lineup of flowers, branches, grasses and berries to create beautiful - and sustainable - wreaths of all styles and sizes.

Why buy an American-grown wreath?

  • U.S. flower farms adhere to all EPA regulations so your wreath is good for you, your home and the earth.
  • American family flower farms use many sustainable practices to protect their workers and their land.
  • American-grown wreaths create a smaller transportation footprint than anything imported.
  • Just like farm-to-table food, a "field-to-front-door" wreath is freshly-harvested, in season and domestically grown.
  • Innovative designs reflect the floral variety from American flower farms -- everything from exotic protea flowers (grown in San Diego and elsewhere in California) to herbs and everlasting flowers (grown in Eugene, Oregon) to red curly willow and other ornamental twigs (grown in central Illinois).

Do-it-yourself wreath-making is as easy as placing flowers in a vase. Start with a walk in the woods or a stroll through your neighborhood to gather "gifts" from nature, especially downed branches, autumn leaves, conifers and dried flowers (note: always wild-gather or forage with permission).

Here are some tips for creating a harvest-to-holiday wreath:
1. As you gather branches, foliage and other elements, clean away debris and trim away broken parts. Lay out pieces on sheets of newspaper and allow them to partially dry (this     helps reduce mildew)
2. Plan for twice as much as you think you'll need. You want your wreath to look rounded and dense rather than thin and flat so make sure you have plenty of material.
3. Choose a wreath "base." Your options include natural grapevine or straw wreath forms or wire frames.
4. Working section by section, arrange botanical elements on the form. I like to work in small sections, attaching clusters or bunches of material with bind wire or twine. Use dark    green or natural colored twine so it visually disappears among the foliage.
5. After each section is applied, hide stems by staggering the next cluster on top of the prior one.
6. Work your way around the form until you've completely covered the base.
7. Add a loop at the back for hanging.
8. Quick tip: Your wreath will last a lot longer when you hang/display it outdoors in fresh, cool air (on a front door, gate or porch). Indoors, a botanical wreath may last two to four weeks, depending on the ingredients.

Slow Flowers is an online directory to help you find florists, studio designers, wedding and event planners, supermarket flower departments and flower farmers who are committed to using American grown flowers.
About Debra Prinzing: Debra is a Seattle-based outdoor living expert who writes and lectures on gardens and home design. She has a background in textiles, journalism, landscape design and horticulture. A frequent speaker for botanical garden, horticultural society and flower show audiences, Debra is also a regular radio and television guest. She is the author of Slow Flowers (St. Lynn’s Press, 2013); The 50 Mile Bouquet: Local, Seasonal and Sustainable Flowers (St. Lynn’s Press, April 2012); Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaways (Clarkson-Potter/Random House, 2008), a Garden Writers Association Gold Award book, and The Abundant Garden (2005). Debra is the producer/host of the weekly “Slow Flowers Podcast with Debra Prinzing,” found on Itunes and

Debra is a contributing garden editor for Better Homes & Gardens and her feature stories on architecture and design appear regularly in the Los Angeles Times’ Home section.  She writes for top shelter and consumer publications, including Country Gardens, Sunset, Garden Design, Organic Gardening, Horticulture, Fine Gardening, Cottages & Bungalows, Metropolitan Home, Landscape Architecture, Alaska Airlines Magazine, This Old House, Old House Interiors, GRAY and Romantic Homes, among others.

Posted November 14, 2014

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