Sunday, December 9, 2012

Wildcraft Your Holiday

Well, anyone who has met Shane Odom will know that he has an exuberance toward the things he enjoys that is quite contagious.  I already shared my enthusiasm for snowflakes that came from his encouragement last year.   Now I have to share another holiday hobby that I picked up from the same source.


It's incredible how many beautiful holiday decorations with an incredible earthy and magical feel you can make just by going for a walk in the woods and bringing home fallen and dried bits.  And even if you don't have a forest nearby in which to walk, you can still wildcraft at this time of year, as you'll see.

A wreath is the easiest thing to wildcraft.  First you start with a grapevine or other pliable branch base, either bought from the store, or made from vine around your home. 

Now comes the most fun part.  Adding to this, you can of course create a base layer of evergreen / pine, but there are so many other options as well.


Wild rose hips:

And of course English ivy, which won't mind your taking heaps of it for this'll just keep growing and growing....

Chinese bittersweet

Also of course there is holly, both with berries and without...
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and Boxwood

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The possibilities are endless!  For instance, the lambs ear in my garden has really gone nuts this year, and earlier at a fall garden show I noticed a vendor selling the dried floral stalks.  Well shoot...I loved how they looked so pale and snow-laden, and I didn't even think to save mine!  Next year....

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And then a quick Google search, sure enough, showed an incredible pale wreath made from Lamb's Ear...though I suspect it's rather delicate and better used for an inside wildcrafted wreath.

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So there you have it....stick wild branches in, step back, and enjoy!

Or, as Shane does and I would love to try sometime, hang a wreath on a friend or neighbor's doorknob anonymously as a winter gift.

Bear in mind also that wildcrafting is not reserved to wreaths only.  Last year and this year I've created green arrangements for my holiday porch using items gathered from a winter walk in a favorite park.  Anything that looked beautiful and that wouldn't be disturbed by taking (ex: fallen branches or naturally dried wildflowers) was game.  (of course be careful not to take anything poisonous...educate yourself)

Oh, and as I mentioned earlier, you can totally do this in a suburban environment too...I got most of my greenery this year from Home Depot...they have a bin into which they discard their extra cut branches from their sold trees, and they are free for the taking.  Add to that a few branches from a tree in your yard or your neighbor's, some dried items from your garden no matter how big or small....

Here are two more resources for inspiration...this gorgeous Facebook album of wreaths made from a variety of natural materials.

And this slideshow showing a variety of ways to use greenery in your decorating inside and outside.

Advanced warning though...this hobby is habit-forming.  It's so fun to create beauty from the sparse wild items found in winter, you'll find yourself constantly searching for more bits to take for your arrangements, and more places to display bits of greenery.

Many thanks to Shane for allowing me to use his photos for this post.


  1. Wow, so there's a name for what I've done since a little girl. I can now tell my husband, when he laughs at me for picking up handfuls of acorns, oddly shaped twigs, and butterfly wings that I'm "wildcrafting" and it's a very respectable occupation. :D

  2. Really wonderful wreaths and totally agree with you that nature gives us the most beautiful gifts with which to dress out homes. I always make wreaths .... but looking at these I think I need to try harder, ha ha! x