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Native Winter Wreath: It's all in your garden!

Northern white cedar, Virginia creeper and some fluff.

native winter wreath

Some say it's nuts; some say superb. For better or worse, I planted Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) along the 300 feet of fence that surrounds the two sides of our corner lot. As you may know, Virginia creeper is a very vigorous vine. Understatement! It also has three seasons of interest, flowers, berries and fall color, and adds oodles of wildlife value to your garden.

I planted very small plants every thirty feet or so and pruned each small plant back to one stem. As the plant grew, I pruned away side shoots until each single stem reached the top of the three foot fence. Then I let each plant spread out in either direction at the top. It's not entirely contiguous yet but getting there.

There is a reason this plant is called Virginia creeper! The vine I am training along the top of the fence grows robustly each summer. It also sends out a few sneaky runners from the base of the original plants. Sometimes I don't see them until they are going places! This year, as I pruned those back after the leaves finally fell, I kept rolling the cut pieces up as I went along and then realized I practically had a wreath or two. If you have Virginia creeper, the bare stems are as good as the grape vine forms you can buy at craft stores.

These photos show how I got started but really what I ended up with was exactly what I had as I rolled the bare vines up as I pruned. I made this wreath with regular twine, wanting to be able to compost it easily when I am finished with it. The vine coils so nicely, I almost didn't need to bind it together but since the wreath is on a very active door, I tied the vines with twine in two places to keep it tight.

I made bundles of northern white cedar (Thuja occidentalis) -- a large piece, a medium piece and then a small piece of the cedar or a few other cuttings - southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), blue spruce (Picea pungens), not native to the east coast, and eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana). Traditionally wreaths are bound with that green paddle wire, but I am trying the twine this time around.

Once the bundles were done, I shortened the stems and began layering them to the wreath form. I cut a longer piece of twine and wrapped the bases of the bundles to the wreath as I went.

When I ran out of bundles I stopped but you could easily do a full wreath. I trimmed some of the branches from the interior of the wreath to open it up a bit.

It seemed to need something more so I headed into the garden to find some fluffy things. I ended up cutting sprigs of coralberries (Symphoricarpus orbiculatas) from a very young shrub and I also had some passion fruits still hanging on the maypop vine (Passiflora incarnata). Made a couple of bundles of those and added a twine bow. Simple, entirely compostable and no errands required! The best kind of decor.

simple native cedar swag on shed door

A few extra northern white cedar pieces left over made a simple swag for the shed door.

Happy foraging!


We want you to be as excited about planting Chesapeake natives as we are. “Plant This or That” gives you a native alternative to popular plants. Other posts highlight really fabulous fauna native to the Chesapeake.

Nuts for Natives, avid gardener, Baltimore City admirer, Chesapeake Bay Watershed restoration enthusiast, and public service fan.

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