Make a Wreath from Natural Materials

This do-it-yourself decoration can be recycled through the seasons, from fall wreath to holiday ornament to, finally, a bird feeder.

| November/December 1990

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    Tucking decorations under the ribbon and into the straw of the ring.

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The wreath is a symbol of the cycle of life. Since we take from nature to make these ornaments, it only makes sense to recycle them and thus give something back. Each year in our family, we make a wreath that we use twice, and then we convert it into a bird feeder. As a bonus, this do-it-yourself project gets us outdoors to enjoy the changing seasons.

We begin with a drive down a country road in the fall. This trip has become a tradition in our family, with my boys wondering aloud just what our harvest wreath will look like this year. We take along garden shears, some twine and ribbon, and search for a roadside overgrown with tall grasses—knee-high or higher. (Of course, we make sure we forage on public rights-of-way so we aren't trespassing.)

The first thing we do is make a straw ring. We clip the grasses and lay handful after handful on the ground, overlapping each until we've made a column of clippings about four feet long (the longer the columns, the bigger the wreath) and three to four inches thick when compressed. Next, the twine gets wrapped tightly around and around the column. We bend the column into a ring, overlap the ends and continue wrapping twine around the joining ends. This grass ring will last for months, is weatherproof and can be dressed for any occasion.

We wrap our harvest wreath with ribbons of gold, brown, russet or other fall colors and then gather weeds, colorful berries, leaves, seed pods and other natural ornaments from roadsides, fields or woods. Leaving the stems intact makes it easy to tuck our finds into the straw of the ring. We always count on rose hips for red color and milkweed pods for interesting shapes. Cattails or pheasant feathers adorn some of our wreaths, or we might dangle ears of corn or gourds within the circle. Use your imagination; you won't be disappointed.

Our fall wreath welcomes guests to our home through the Thanksgiving season. Many comment that they never before noticed the inherent beauty of such common plants as grasses and weeds.

A red ribbon on the wreath announces the advent of the Christmas season. After removing the fall decorations, we tuck evergreen twigs into the ring. Pine, juniper, fir, holly—a variety of greens and leaf shapes adds interest. Sometimes we cover the ring entirely with evergreens; other times we just scatter sprigs around the ring. Our boys usually know of a pine tree that has dropped some cones, or they're willing to climb for them.

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