Foraging for Christmas

One of my favorite things to do in December is wander around and find fun things to use for decorating. Many years ago, we lived on Summer Street in a small Massachusetts town and the foraging was great! Across the street from the house was a big field with grape vines. Each Summer I made grape jelly and then made wreaths from the vines in the late Fall. At the corner of the street were blackberries, so I made jam with that. We had woods behind the house and I trimmed pine boughs and branches for wreaths and arrangements in the house.

That was the last good house for foraging, until now! Our yard has lots of good wreath making materials. We have two enormous holly trees, which are not quite red yet, and I am not sure they are useable as the leaves have been chewed on by bugs. I am not sure what these bushes are called, but they have good red berries that I can use instead of the chewed holly.

Good red berries

Here is what a pre-lit wreath from a big box store can look like when you add live plant material. It was fun to wander around the yard, clipping bits from all our tress and bushes. I have no idea whether these things will stay fresh throughout the month, but it will be easy enough to replace them if they turn brown. The big leaves you see are the staple of Southern decorating, Magnolia leaves! Several years ago, when we lived in Illinois, I bought a bunch of Magnolia leaves at a garden center to use for a wreath. I left them in the garage until I was ready to make the wreath, and found that they had dried into un-usable shapes. They were expensive and I was annoyed. I won’t be having that problem this year!

Improving a fake wreath

On our trip to Beaufort, my eagle-eyed husband noticed these great pine cones lying in a parking lot. We snagged a trash bag from the hotel and collected a bunch. It turns out that they are from Ponderosa Pine Trees ! They look wonderful in the fake wreaths out front. And, we had so many that I decided to make a huge pine cone wreath to hang over the mantle using a (purchased) grape vine wreath for the base. Ponderosa pine cones do not have a little tail to attach wire to, so I was relieved to have unpacked my glue gun.

Ponderosa Pine Cones

I was wandering down by the dock the other day and discovered the prickly guys in the bowl. I looked them up and they are seed pods from the Sweetgum tree. They are very cute for display and small projects – and – I have discovered that they are also very enjoyable cat toys! ;-D

Sweet gum seed pods

Here is the pine cone wreath in its place of honor. It’s about 38″ in diameter. We have spent several days listening to pine cones falling off, but I think, after using many, many sticks of hot glue,  the cones are going to stay put now!

Mantle pine cone wreath

The house is looking very festive…..

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