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Monday, April 22, 2013

Finally... Signs of Spring!

Well, it wasn't a severe winter here in CT, but it seems to have taken longer than usual for my garden to wake up... All at once, new growth is popping up here and there.

Most notably, the Ballerina Magnolia outside my front door and the circle of grape muscari at it's feet. The daffodils are up as well and a few allium have started to make their way, but I need to replant a new batch as the allium bulbs seem to be spent.

I picked up a couple flats of pansies and decided to make a couple of living wreaths. I haven't done this in several years and decided to try a new technique that I'll document here.


I gathered my supplies: coated wire wreath forms, potting soil, landscape fabric, scissors and garden gloves. Quick note: in the past I have also made wreaths lined with sheet moss instead of landscape fabric but found them a bit messier--though more attractive at the start before the annuals have filled out. I am hanging one of these wreaths on my front door and like the idea of the landscape fabric backing the wreath to keep the door cleaner. And in a couple of weeks, the plants should be so lush and full that the unsightly fabric is not noticeable.

I began by cutting a wide strip of the landscape fabric to fit in the channel of the wreath form and made cuts on either side to create strips that I can weave back and forth in between the plants to hold them in place. I cut shorter strips on one side, longer on the other. (In the past, I have completely wrapped the soil in landscape fabric first, and then cut slits in the fabric and jammed the plants down inside. This was a bit difficult and pretty rough on the plants, though the annuals always seem to bounce back within a couple of weeks despite the rough treatment.)

I then placed the fabric inside the wreath form with the shorted strips in the center of the wreath and filled the channel with moistened potting soil. It is worth it to note that if your strip of landscape fabric is too short to reach around the full circumference of the wreath forms simply cut another piece of fabric to fill the space but be sure to overlap by several inches on either side. I filled the potting soil nearly to the top of the forms, allowing for some displacement as I add the plants.

And now for the fun part--plunking in the pansies!

I dumped the pansies out (quite unceremoniously) and tore them apart so I had a dozen or so individual plants to work with at a time.

Next, I hooked the top of the wreath forms in place and began to place the plants. After placing 2-4 plants at a time, I wove a strip of landscape fabric from either side under the wreath form wires to secure the plants and soil as I went.


In this way, I worked my way around (and yes, it does get a bit tedious) until the wreaths were complete. And that's it! Before hanging--I filled two plastic storage bin covers with water and placed the wreaths in for a couple of hours for a thorough soaking.

In another week or two, I'll take a follow-up picture of the wreaths in place so you can see how they've filled out.

The pansies are definitely a cooler-weather annual so come mid-to-late June the heat will be too much for them and they won't be looking their best. I will likely discard them then and (hopefully!) create new wreaths with more heat hardy summer annuals...

Please note--if you search you'll find other instructions/techniques for creating these wreaths online and may want to follow the direction of those more knowledgeable. Use the method that most appeals to you and have fun--they definitely garner lots of compliments from visitors and are gorgeous when seen from the street on your front door!

Lots of new jewelry coming in the next week!

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