Decorating with Nature workshop held

Participants make wreaths during an Decorating with Nature workshop hosted by the Extension System on Dec. 6..

DOUBLE SPRINGS - Regional Extension Agent and Horticulturist Jayne Luetzow conducted a Holiday Decorating with Nature workshop at the Double Springs Municipal Building on Wednesday, Dec. 6, from 2-4 p.m.

For a $20 registration fee, Luetzow, assisted by Master Gardener Dena Morris, showed participants how to make wreaths, garlands and door or mailbox swags using local greenery, pine cones, seed pods and dried flowers.

It was the fifth and last of a series of these workshops Luetzow conducted across north Alabama. The others were held in Colbert, Lauderdale, Limestone and Marshall counties.

Luetzow said the workshop’s purpose was to introduce people to local greenery, types they could find in their yard or woods, and teach them to use it to decorate more economically. “You don’t have to buy a whole bunch of greenery at a large box store,” she pointed out.

Participants at the Double Springs workshop were able to choose from a wide variety of greenery, including Eastern red cedar, slash pine, loblolly pine, magnolia, holly and dwarf nandina.

Extension Coordinator Zach Brannon cut most of the greenery, Luetzow said, and Master Gardener John Simms from Lawrence County contributed more. Speak Robin Farm in Lauderdale County donated several types of dried flowers. Walker County Extension Coordinator Danny Cain also helped with the workshop.

Before demonstrating how to make the decorations, Luetzow taught the workshop participants what types of greenery to use in what circumstances, how to gather the greenery while keeping the plant it comes from looking nice, how to keep your greenery fresh, and some basic elements of design.  

Here are some of her tips:

  • Leave greenery in water overnight in a cool place before using it in decor.
  • Use pine, fir and cedar indoors, and use hemlock, spruce and broadleaf evergreens like magnolias outdoors.
  • Use types of greenery that have broad, fine and medium textures in your decor to give it dimension.
  • Dry citrus fruit (choose the harder pieces of fruit) to include in your decor by first slicing it thin, placing it on parchment paper and covering it with a towel to absorb moisture overnight or for 24 hours; then place it in a 200-degree oven for two hours, turning every 30 minutes.
  • Spray your decor with floral preservative spray to increase longevity.
  • Display your natural decor away from fireplaces and heating vents to keep it fresh longer, and remember that once it dries out, it will be flammable.
  • Replace the greenery and fruit in your decor as needed throughout the season.

Making wreaths, garlands and swags

After the presentation, following Leutzow’s example, participants chose the greenery and other materials they wanted to use and gathered it into bunches 6-8 or 12 inches in length depending on what size wreath was desired. They then attached those one at a time to a provided wreath frame using paddle wire. Luetzow instructed them to place the first bunch toward the outside of the wreath frame and the next toward the inside and to continue alternating each additional bunch’s position while covering the wired end of one bunch with the top of the next. She suggested wrapping the paddle wire around the stems of each bunch and the frame at least three times, making sure to pull the wire tight each time.

Bows were provided for each wreath and hot glue guns were available for attaching pine cones and seed pods.

After the wreathes were finished, Luetzow showed everyone how to make swags simply by forming larger bunches of greenery and wiring the ends together. She suggested placing a bow over the wire at what would be the top of the swag. She said two swags could be attached to each other with enough wire between their tops to hang them over either side of a mailbox.

She also demonstrated how to use the same technique of creating bunches of greenery to make garlands by wiring small bunches of greenery to a length of craft rope, which she provided.

Natural centerpieces

Luetzow suggested another way to decorate using materials from nature: making centerpieces out of greenery, apples and candles. The first step is to trace the circumference of a candle onto the center of an apple with a marker. Then cut out the center to create a candle holder. Rub the inside of the apple with lemon juice to prevent browning before inserting the candle. Finally, insert the stems of the greenery, cut at a 45-degree angle, into the base of the apple, adding accents such as dried flowers or berries.

At the end of the workshop, participants took their wreaths, garlands and swags home, and as this was the last of five such workshops, participants were invited to take home some of the leftover greenery and other natural materials to complete their projects or make new ones.

Luetzow also teaches spring and fall floral design classes in the area. To find Extension events of all kinds, visit the Extension calendar at


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