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Dressing Your Door For Winter

People are all about decorating with lights during the holidays. White twinkle lights tend to convey a classic traditional sensibility. Maybe you have a nostalgia for the large colorful C9 bulbs that appeal to your childhood sentimentality. Or maybe you've swung to a more sustainable stance in the last few years and adopted LED strands into your repertoire. Lights are festive and beautiful once night falls, but during the day, they do little to enhance the curb appeal of your home.

In comes the door wreath! While lights say "Christmas", most HOA's only allow them to be on display the month of December. A wreath can say "Winter" and be hung directly after the pumpkins get composted all the way until the chill gets chased away, plus, nothing welcomes visitors at your door like a beautiful wreath.

Wreaths have been around for centuries. In ancient Greece, they were used as wearable adornment to denote a person's occupation, rank, achievement and status. Laurel and olive leaves were commonly used for this practice, most notably the headdresses worn at Olympic ceremonies denoting victory. Also used in funeral practices, wreaths would signify the eternal circle of life.

Harvest wreaths took on a more spiritual role. Wheat was often harvested, fashioned and hung year-round as an offering to the Gods for protection of crops. Over time, tradition shifted to the more religious use of wreaths. Commonly used to signify Christmas and Epiphany, the wreath was first used by Lutherans in their Advent ceremony in the 16th Century.

They have even had a contentious past. During Renaissance times in England, wreaths were used for the Pagan ritual of May Day. Puritans felt the use of them sullied Christian morality so they were confiscated by soldiers in Oxford on May Day, 1648.

Regardless, it seems the simple wreath has stood the test of time. I know my door feels bare without one.

In the Winter, my landscape designing slows a bit, so I revisit where I started. For about 10 years, I was a commercial floral designer. I would adorn hotel ballrooms and restaurants with artificial greenery and arrangements. I actually fell into it "accidentally on purpose" by asking a local restaurant owner if the floral displays were due for an update. He assumed I was in the trade, emphatically said, "Yes!" and asked for my card. Gulp! I stuck my nose where it didn't belong, but I find the phrase "right place at the right time" one I now believe in whole-heartedly. I jumped in head first and it was a great way to create income while raising young children.

This season has been extremely busy for my floral designs. One creation led to many others thanks to Instagram and so I figured it would make a timely blog post.

I recently made what I call a "Colorado-chic" Christmas wreath for a friend. Her door color as inspiration, a deep gray with a navy undertone, made a perfect canvas. I thought red and wheat colors would look perfect, so I fashioned a bow made from two rolls of wired ribbon.

I love using flowers that are outside the holiday norm. Poinsettias are super traditional, but they don't always work on 18" door wreaths. They swallow up the entire space and fight any bow you might add. Much larger wreaths (36"+) and Christmas trees look excellent with Poinsettia tucked in because their scale allows them room to do their thing.

Instead, I decided to use cabbage roses for my friend's wreath. They are sturdy and dramatic and give quite a pop of color from the curb. I added the leaves trimmed from the roses to cover the grapevine base.

I then added Austrian Pine sprigs. I love the way they give a hint of Christmas without being overtly evergreen. To follow are gilded pinecones in varying sizes for a regal look.

Next came greenery such as lamb's ear, evergreen dusted in glitter and what I assume is flowering boxwood.

Large colorful berries show up nicely and give texture and a few lacy twigs round it out. I tend to leave a bit of the grape vine base showing oppositely the bow as it gives a place for your eye to rest against the riot of color and texture. My husband invariably asks why it's not finished (his experience is in quality control) and I guess I have decided it is my signature.

All in all, I think it turned out wonderfully and she agreed. Be brave in experimenting with your Christmas decor. After centuries of popularity, it's hard to go wrong.

Merry merry!

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