As the holidays are quickly approaching, take a survey of your property to see what evergreen shrubs and trees you have. If you don’t have much variety, then look at the properties of friends and family members who might be willing to share. Remember that garlands generally last 1-2 weeks so don’t make them up too far in advance
1 | Tools
You will need the following:
Gloves for gathering and disposable gloves for making the garlands
Rings or hooks for hanging your garland
2 | Gathering
Using hand pruners, go around the property to gather branches of evergreen shrubs to be used to make your garland. Cut both longer and shorter pieces from the plants you want to gather. Once you have gathered from everything within reach, then take the lopers and gather branches from evergreen trees. You want smaller thin branches off the trees. This is the perfect time to prune the shrubs and trees for appearance and put the trimmings to good use.
I like to include some shrubs or trees with ornamental fruit or seed pods to add some interest to an otherwise evergreen garland.
3 | Conditioning
I shake off all the plant material to remove spiders, bugs and pollen. Then fill a large 5 gallon bucket with warm water and dip each piece in the water to remove pollen, dust, dirt and any other debris. Next, make a fresh cut on each cutting at a 45 degree angle and then lightly hammer the end of the stem to allow it to absorb more water. Fill your bucket with room temperature water and let the plant material soak for several hours. Be sure to spray the foliage with an anti-desiccant spray to seal the pores on the leaves and bark to help retain moisture. Once your garlands are done be sure and mist them every day to keep them moist and help extend the life of the garland.
4 | Assembly
Note: I wear disposable gloves to prevent irritation to my hands
Start out by pulling out all the long cuttings that can be used to make the foundation of the garland. Then group the shorter pieces by plant species. I usually select one plant to make the foundation with (White Pine is my favorite). Lay one piece down and then wire another longer piece to the first one. Continue doing this until you have the desired length of the garland. Then I will take some other evergreen with flat sprays of foliage such as False Cypress, Thuja or Leyland Cpyress and lay pieces of those ontop of the White Pine and wire them into place. Next take something like Boxwood with Spruce, Fir or Holly extending out from both sides and wire the group together and then wire that to the garland. Continue to make small clusters and attach them along the entire length of the garland. The final step is to add some ornamental fruit or seed pods for added interest.
5 | Wiring for Hanging
Attach hooks or rings to your garland for hanging. If you have a 22’ garland, you might want to put a ring or hanging hook at 3’, 11’ and 19’. This would allow you to have a 3’ section hanging down on either side and two curved sections.