Today, folks from the Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association are scheduled to hang two massive holiday wreaths at the Minnesota Governor’s Residence on Summit Avenue in St. Paul. I was fortunate yesterday to observe Diane Lee, who has made the governor’s wreaths the past six years, as she designed the wreaths in the back shop at Mickman Brothers in Ham Lake. (Mickman’s donates the wreaths, plus lots of evergreen roping for the holiday decorations.)
Diane has some great ideas for anyone who wants to make an original wreath for their home this holiday season.
Tip No. 1: Pick a Theme. Because Gov. Mark Dayton is a single man known for his love of big dogs, Diane decided to choose masculine elements and colors for the wreaths. They each have a big red bow, but the rest of the elements are muted and north-woodsy: a pheasant, ferns, pinecones, large pears, cranberries and pheasant feathers in one and a tiny deer, ferns, pinecones and cranberries in the other.
Tip No. 2: Add Extra Greens at the Bottom of the Wreath. To nestle her two focal points – the pheasant and deer figures – Diane put extra greens at the bottom of each wreath. This nest gives the wreath extra texture and draws the eye to the focal point. As I’ve noted in previous posts on holiday containers, beautiful wreaths tend to have lots of types of greenery. Diane used four kinds of greens in these wreaths.
Tip No. 3: Don’t Make it Symmetrical. On the biggest of the two wreaths (60 inches in diameter), Diane loaded one side of the wreath with three over-sized imitation pears, a few pinecone clusters, as well as ferns and cranberries. The other side had only pinecones and cranberries. But she also placed the bow slightly off center on that side to balance out the wreath. Also, the ends of your bows should always have a long and a short side.
Tip No. 4: Use Odd Numbers. Like plantings in your yard, odd numbers seem to work better on wreaths. Diane used three imitation pears and one focal point piece; she wired three pinecones together before placing them on the wreaths.
Tip No. 5: Mix Fake and Real. Diane used a mix of natural pieces with fake ones. The pinecones are real, but the cranberries are extra large fake ones. The fakes tend to hold up better in our tough weather, and from a distance, no one will know.
Tip No. 6: Wire it Down! Diane uses 24-gauge floral wire to lash the decorative pieces on the wreath. The wire is green, so it blends well with the greenery of the wreath and it’s thin enough that it can’t be seen. She also keeps a hot glue gun handy to secure wayward cranberries or cedar boughs.
Tip No. 7: Know When to Stop. Diane doesn’t have any specific suggestions about how many elements or how full a wreath should be. But, when you add something and it seems to detract from what else is there, then it’s time to stop.
You can see Diane’s wreaths hanging at the Governor’s mansion. She also designed two apple-themed wreaths that will hang at the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul. Diane teaches about floral design frequently. If you are interested in learning more from Diane, she will be making a presentation at the MSHS Open House, at 11 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 3 at the hort society store in Roseville. Check out the MSHS website for more information on this and other holiday events.