Natural Christmas and Bird Wreaths to Brighten the Season
How to Make Wreaths and Decorations from Nature's Bounty
What better way to celebrate the season than to take the family on a nature walk to observe the beauty of the forest and to gather materials for a unique and special holiday wreath? To this day I have fond memories of my Mom and Dad passing on their knowledge of the outdoors through such outings.
We love nature's bounty and enjoy gathering the supplies for our family's Christmas wreath and other decorations. The gathering starts as soon as the interesting seed pods form, usually in the fall. Pine trees abound where we live, so our wreaths have a foundation of pine cones with the additional cones and leaves of the Southern Magnolia and some local nuts and berries all on a homemade grapevine wreath form made from the various muscadine and summer grape vines that grow throughout our woods.
We have also provided videos and links to show you other ways to make Christmas and bird wreaths. We always try to include food decorations for our feathered friends.
Cardinal in Holly
Christmas Traditions Poll
Does your family make and hand down holiday wreaths and ornaments?
We have always been close to nature and when the holidays come around, my decorations consist of collages of objects gathered from the forests and fields. One of my favorite creations is a Christmas wreath made from cones, seed pods, nuts, berries and other gathered plant materials. We start with a flexible, green grapevine, which is easy to find since they grow wild all over Louisiana.
Here's how we make the grapevine wreath:
1. Cut 3-4 strands of green grapevine, about 15-20 feet long.
2. Hold them together so the cut ends are even and the vines are laying in a straight, untangled line.
3. Start winding your wreath from the cut ends, shaping it into the desired size.
4. When you get about 5-6 feet from the end, start winding the vines in and out through the center and around the outside of the wreath to secure the vines and hold the shape.
5. To finish, weave the ends into the wreath to secure them.
6. Now you are ready to begin decorating the wreath.
How to Wind a Grapevine Wreath
If you don't have access to grapevines, or don't have time to make your own these excellent ready-made wreaths are what you need for the foundation. They are attractive, sturdy and will last for years.
Natural Plant Materials for Wreaths and Decorations
There are so many natural plant materials that make lovely wreaths. Since we live in Pine country, we collect pine cones of different sizes. This forms the foundation of the wreath. Grape and wisteria vines can also be twisted to form a foundation wreath on which to glue or wire the decorative elements.
Other interesting seed pods and berries include:
- Holly (including Yaupon)
- Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)
- Magnolia (cones and leaves)
- Florida Anise seed pods
- Sweet Gum balls
- Hickory nuts
- Chinese Tallow tree seed clusters
- Cotton bolls (with or without the cotton)
- Yellow-eyed Grass seed pods.
- Chinese tallow tree seeds
- Cedar and Short-leaf or spruce pine needles
Look around the woods and your yard for interesting shapes and textures. Magnolia leaves are very tough and will last for a few years. They can even be spray painted with gold, silver or clear finish if desired. Other evergreens like cedar and short-leaf pines also add color and beauty.
Magnolia Seed Cones
Red Berries of Native Hollies
We use florist's wire and hot glue to secure the plant materials. Some of the thicker stems can be forced between the vines, but some of the larger pine cones my need to be wired on. You may also want to add artificial berries to make the wreath more long lasting. Finish it off with a big festive bow. You can make your own, but the Dollar Store usually has pretty ones for a couple of dollars.
Sing hey! Sing hey!
For Christmas Day;
Twine mistletoe and holly,
For friendship glows
In winter snows,
And so let's all be jolly.
Natural Wreath with a Bonus
When this picture was taken, this wreath was over 2 years old. We had a death in the family right after Christmas so the wreath was left up through February and a pair of Carolina Wrens took up residence and turned this ordinary wreath into something special. Next Christmas, all we have to do is add some new Magnolia leaves and some berries (natural and artificial) and some artificial bird's eggs in the nest and we'll have a unique and beautiful natural wreath.
Wreath for the Birds
Watch these baby robins as they hatch from a holiday wreath. Talk about bringing nature to your front door.
Make a Bird Wreath
A wreath made especially for the birds of winter can be made of seed heads such as millet sprays or sunflower. Colorful holly berries and even Chinese tallow tree seeds will brighten up the wreath and bring birds to your front door. If you want to go all out for our feathered friends, then add pine cones that have been drizzled with peanut butter and lard suet and sprinkled with wild bird seeds. For more visitors, add strings of popcorn and some sprigs of holly berries, too. Hang it on a gate or near a window so you can watch the fun because the seed eating birds flock to these wreaths.
The following video uses a gelatin mold form to make a lovely birdseed wreath that is a delight to view and that your feathered friends will enjoy.
Wreath as a Centerpiece
A natural Christmas wreath can be used for the door or as an advent wreath or table centerpiece. Adding candles and ribbons put the finishing touches on this lovely creation.
Christmas Plants to Add to Your Design
Solveig Paulson Russel
Oh, the mistletoe and holly,
The bayberry and yew,
The needled pines and hemlocks,
And the fir trees, too,
All lend themselves at Christmastime
To make the season gay,
Shedding fragrance and cheer
In their own bright way.
The poinsettia adds its beauty,
And the yule log burns with cheer,
And other plants add to the fun
At the ending of the year.
So here's a cheer for Christmas greens,
And all plants that have a part
In making Christmas blossom
In the gardens of the heart!
Native Plant Seeds in Cards
For years, we have been sharing both native plant and easy to grow introduced plant seeds with our friends and family. We discovered that the 2 1/4" X 3 1/2" paper coin envelopes are perfect for giving seeds. We print out a label containing the planting information and description and stick that to the front of the envelope. Then we put a package of the seeds into each of our Christmas cards (more for the gardeners on our list). Most people really enjoy and will plant the little extra gift and it's our way of spreading natives and hummingbird and butterfly plants around.
© 2008 Yvonne L B