|It's late November here in Pleasant Valley, MD and most of the leaves are gone.|
This year we didn't have a lot of colorful berries to use. One reason is that I have been diligently cutting or removing the invasives like oriental bittersweet, Japanese barberry, winged euonymus and multiflora rose all with colorful fruits that were overly abundent in past years. The native 'replacements' I've put in, like winterberry holly, chokeberry and smooth sumac, are still maturing. There are still many different textures and evergreens out there that work well together.
|Here's what we gathered from around the property. While it was easy|
to stuff the cuttings into the bag, getting them out without
damaging the delicate seed heads was pretty tricky.
- Grasses, provide browns, tans and gold shades, some with interesting seed heads. Deer tongue grass and little bluestem have a lot of structure to them. The foxtails are large enough to show up at a distance.
- Seed heads provide detailed texture. Monardas, agastache, ironweed, asters, goldenrods, cone flowers and members of the mint family are good examples smaller flowers. The dried heads of larger flowers like annual sunflower, milkweeds, hydrangea and tree peony can really stand out. Pine cones, of course, are classic wreath material.
- Berries and Fruits are a great source of color. Holly berries are a regular addition to winter decorations. Berries from various Hypericum, roses and beautyberry are some other possibilities. We also harvested some crabapples for color; although these may not be a good choice for indoors, since they may begin to rot. As I mentioned I have removed many of the brightly colored invasives, like bittersweet and barberry, from our property.
- Leaves add a different texture. This year we were able to get some leafy branches off of the Beech trees. Some species of oaks also retain leaves that could work well in a swag/wreath. We also picked up some individual leaves off the ground that had good color in them. We bundled them in a little sachet, but they could also be used individually.
- Branches can add a unique structure. We took some from our winterhazel (Corylopsis) which has a zig-zag stem. Red twig dogwood would be another good choice having both color and texture; however our plants are are a bit too small to cut back yet.
- Vines can be used in several ways. Bundled together they can form the basis for a wreath. Singly they can add a free flowing element to the design. Most of the vines we have available are from invasives like oriental bittersweet and Japanese honeysuckle. We also have some native river grape and Virginia creeper. I caution you about harvesting the Virginia creeper since, without leaves, it is difficult to distinguish from poison ivy.
|We covered the table with some large pieces of paper so that the debris could be bundled up more easily.|
|Here, some of the branches point up, others down. |
Also a rhododendron branch in the center changes the texture of the swag.
|Here she created a circular wreath using Japanese honeysuckle.|
Then she tied in a little bundle of of beech leaves, foxtails,
cone flowers on a base of white pine.
|Here we put in some of the left overs including some Corylopsis branches,|
a wild mint, spotted beebalm, a wild onion and rhododendron branches.