You can have the most elegant outside décor in the neighborhood without spending a bundle if you dress up a plain evergreen wreath with natural materials from your garden.
Tuck sprigs and snippets of other plants among the greens and secure them with flexible, fine florist wire, available at craft stores.
Your trees and shrubs are mostly dormant, so cutting off a few branches here and there won’t hurt them. When you prune items for décor, be careful to respect the forms of your plants, especially evergreen shrubs. Don’t leave them lopsided or with holes or gaps.
Collect anything that’s dry and brown, such as perennial stalks or hydrangea flowers; they’ve served their purpose and have been discarded by the plant.
As you decorate your wreath, aim for contrast. For example, if your wreath is made of pine branches with long, slender needles, you might add a contrasting texture with boxwood, which has small, shiny, round leaves. Feathery springs of arborvitae would add more variation.
Add berries, if the birds haven’t gotten to them first. The red fruit of winterberry or crabapple and the purple berries of callicarpa would be attractive. To show off the color of the fruit, strip off any leaves that haven’t yet fallen.
Dried plants can also add interest, such as flower heads from astilbe or ornamental grasses. Twigs from plants with colorful bark, such as red-twig dogwood, also can brighten a wreath.
If you use cones, acorns, or other nuts gathered from the garden, first bake them to dry out any sticky sap and kill off any small insects that might lurk. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper or parchment paper. Lay the nuts or cones on the paper and bake for an hour at 250 degrees. Once they've cooled, hot-glue smaller nuts to bamboo barbecue skewers so you can stick them into the wreath. Attach larger cones with florist's wire.
For more glitz in your holiday decorations, use a glue gun to add glitter or spray-paint cones, bare branches, and other found objects in red, gold, or silver. Glitter will stick to spray paint if you dust it on quickly, before the paint dries.
Before you decorate the bare evergreen wreath, spray it with a preservative to keep it from drying out too quickly. Use a commercial antidessicant spray, available in garden centers. Let the greens dry, decorate the wreath, spray it again, and let it dry before hanging it.
This wreath is strictly outdoor décor; indoors, central heating will quickly dry it out, even if it’s sprayed with a preservative. Don't hang it inside a glass storm door, where it will dry out in the trapped heat. Hang it on the door or elsewhere outdoors.