winter gardening

All the ingredients for a festive wreath.

Winter may be the season when our gardens rest and the great outdoors hides its brightest blooms, but there are still a few ways to bring the outside in. Enjoy a splash of green with one of these three easy projects.


winter wreath

A winter wreath with delicious-smelling juniper and bay leaf.

In ancient Rome, people used decorative wreaths as a sign of victory and celebration. The wreath symbolizes the strength of life and overcoming the forces of winter (take that, polar vortex). In Europe, people would use wreaths as markers to identify and differentiate their homes, instead of the house numbers we use today. Each residence adorned its own unique wreath with flowers that were often grown right on the homeowner’s land.

You may not have greenery in your backyard, but crafting your own wreath with a few simple tools is a satisfying task that instantly adds warmth and cheer to your home – not to mention a refreshing, woodsy scent. Here’s a handy list of everything you’ll need:

– wreath armature (12-inch for small and sweet; 18-inch for something a little more spectacular)
– floral wire
– clippers
– wire cutters

This year, I’ve been making my wreaths with juniper because it creates the nicest lines and smells like a walk through the winter woods. Feel free to use any evergreen that catches your eye. Cut a manageable branch (you can work with any length, but I like to use branches about 8-10 inches long) and place it over the wreath armature. Take your floral wire and start wrapping, working your way around the circle. Keep adding larger branches until the entire wreath is covered. Not to worry if it looks a little wayward; you can always fill in any remaining holes at the end. The idea is to create a working base with your greenery, then layer up. I like to add in another kind of greenery for a different texture, like eucalyptus or bay leaf (both smell amazing). Secure with floral wire the same way you did with the evergreens. Now you can finish your wreath with bits and baubles: pinecones, berries, flowers and anything you might forage on a winter walk… The base you’ve built should have plenty of nooks and crannies in which to securely tuck away all your decorations. (You can also use the floral wire to twist them into place.)


forced paper white bulbs

Just add water: find a vessel with a wide mouth to grow happy, healthy paper whites.

Forcing paper white bulbs breathes life – and the most refreshing fragrance – into winter homes. (You can force bulbs year-round; simply discard bulbs once the bloom fades.) Head down to your local flower market and you can find the bulbs for as little as $1. Next, find bottles or vases with a wide enough mouth to accommodate the bulb so that it’s stable and unlikely to tip as it grows. I like using glass vases; since it’s as much a treat to watch the roots grow as the flowers themselves. This way you can also keep an eye on water levels. Make sure the root of the bulb is always touching water. Also keep in mind that once the bulbs start to grow (paper whites take around 4-6 weeks to bloom), they like a little sun to start off. Once they’re really going, switch to more direct light – so pick a vase that fits snugly on your windowsill.


winter greenery ornament

Three steps to making your own glass greenery ornament.

This project has been on my list for a couple years now. Turns out, it’s so easy to do. First, you need some round, glass ornaments (make sure the small tin top is removable). Then, fill them with whichever seasonal clippings you’d like. The holes are quite small, so keep that in mind when selecting your filler. Narrow springs of evergreens work really nicely. I used juniper clipping and moss, which you can find at almost any floral supply or craft store. I like to try to keep the filler minimal, so the negative space highlights what you’ve chosen to showcase inside. These ornaments are a nice alternative from the more summery air plants hanging in glass balls – with added aromatic benefits.

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