Holiday wreaths are yours free for the picking

Desert della Robbia is what we call our holiday wreaths.They're fat with pinon and juniper greens, trimmed with dried wild-sunflower heads, yucca pods, rice grass, leafy scrub-oak twigs, jimson-weed seed casings, spruce cones, and western misletoe.

All of these things grow within 10 miles of our house in Santa Fe, N.M., and most were collected by the roadside.

Using the greens and dried vegetation from your area of the country, you can create a handsome wreath with a unique local flovor.

Start by collecting a pile of short evergreen branches and dried trimmings. A Sunday-afternoon visit to the country, or your own garden or backyard will do.

You'll need wire clippers, light-gauge flexible wire, garden clippers, gloves , a yard of 3-inch-wide red ribbon, and a wreath form.

Or you may cut a circle of corrugated cardboard 16 inches in diameter. Cut out an inner circle tht leaves a rim 3 inches wide.

Using gloves, clip greens into 8- to 12-inch lengths; choose the best-looking , branches.

Bunch several short pieces together and hold them onto the wreath form while you wrap the wire tightly around their base and the cardboard.

Proceed around the wreath with closely overlapping layers of greens. Make it fat and dense with greens.

When the form is covered, hang it on the wall, stand back, and take a look. It may need to be trimmed or shaped.

Now decorate. Some trimmings, such as pine cones and yucca pods, work best when first wired into a cluster, then wired onto the wreath.

When making clusters of cones and seed pods, leave long tails of wire for attaching. Nestle the trims into the greenery and twist securely.

Clip off any extra wire, but add as much trimming as ou like. Use almost any dried vegetation that doesn't shed or fall apart.

Then, for the bright Christmas.

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