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Create holly-day greenery from items in your backyard

Using a mix of natural trimmings and some glitz and glitter, Karson Cain (left), mother Karin Cain, both of Marble Falls, and friend Paige Langum of College Station created a stunning holiday wreath at Backbone Valley Nursery in Marble Falls. Follow the steps below to make your own. Staff photos by David Bean.

An evergreen wreath at Christmas represents eternal life and has been a Christian tradition since the 16th century, when Germans trimmed their holiday trees into perfect triangles to symbolize the Holy Trinity. In a culture where nothing was wasted, the trimmed greens were shaped into wreaths and hung on the trees, over mantels, and in doorways.

About 500 years later, Backbone Valley Nursery, 4201 FM 1980 in Marble Falls, keeps the tradition alive in the Highland Lakes with annual wreath decorating workshops and a plentiful supply of pre-made evergreen coils.

“Everyone has their preference when it comes to decorating wreaths,” said Mary Kay Pope, a landscape professional at the nursery. “I love acorns and pinecones and things in nature.”

Making your own wreath is simple and satisfying, Pope said. She offered a few easy steps for putting your own personal stamp on a creative family tradition.


While you can shape your own wreaths with any evergreen, including cedar, you can also find ready-to-decorate wreaths at almost any local store that sells plants.


Bow color can be determined by the color of your house, your front door, or just a personal preference. The rest of the decorations will be chosen to complement or contrast with the bow color and texture. Decide where you want the bow: on the top, bottom, or side. Learn how to make your own bow.


Lay out your wreath decor within easy reach.

Lay your colorful, shiny Christmas decorations close together for easy picking. Also, gather your tools. You don’t necessarily need all of these, but it’s good to have them on hand: a glue gun, florist wire, needle-nose pliers, gold or silver glitter paint, spray flocking.


Collect natural decorations from your backyard.

Collect natural decorations from the landscape around your home. The box pictured here includes magnolia seed pods, burr oak acorns, and sprigs of magnolia leaves, pyracantha, hydrangea, Arizona cypress, olive, nandina, and yaupon holly. You can paint any item to jazz it up.


Use contrasting colors, textures, and forms for interest.

Start pairing items based on color, texture, and form. Choose things that will contrast with each other: a light color against a dark one, smooth leaves against a rough seed pod, shiny gold glitter against warm browns or greens in nature.

“You use the same concept in landscaping or any type of art,” Pope said. “You want to work with various contrasts or forms.”


'Repetition is more peaceful to the eye,' Pope said.

Repeat the bow color around the wreath using an odd number of items. “Don’t put a hodge-podge of things on your wreath. It will make your eyes go round and round and not know where to look,” Pope said. “Repetition is more peaceful to the eye.”

While you should have a color scheme in mind, be careful not to overdo it, she added. Use trial and error until you come up with the right combination. Now, it’s time to attach!


Use glue guns sparingly, especially with natural decorations as the hot glue can cause plants to wither. The wreaths are only going to last through the holiday season, but hot glue can cut that lifespan even more. Use the glue gun to attach items to the bows or other artificial embellishments, which then can be wired onto the wreath


Use green florist wire to attach objects.

Green florist wire can be wrapped around almost anything and then used to attach that item to your wreath. Some decorations even come with their own wires attached and just have to be twisted into place.

“There are so many different ways to decorate a wreath,” Pope said. “There are as many ways as there are people. Whatever you do, you will have a wreath you love because you will make something that pleases you and that you can look at all season and say, ‘I like that; I made that.’”

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