The Year In Food » Fine Seasonal Eating

Masthead header


hasselbrink_3j5a2268-2One of my goals in moving to Portland was to not let the rain deter me from getting outside. Perhaps there is a learning curve to accepting the near-daily rain, because I have never been as big a homebody as within the last month. But I am slowly acclimating, and now that I have a doggie (!!!), I have to get outside. No matter how miserable the weather, I am always invigorated by it, and find a post-freezing mug of tea or hot cocoa extra delightful.


Gathering foliage in our neighborhood for a wreath is a lovely, focused way of getting outside when it’s cold. It connects us with our home and neighborhood, and tunes us in to the annual cycles of plants. It engages our senses, which is so uplifting in the winter: our sense of sight in hunting for appropriate greenery and intriguing textures, our sense of smell with fragrant evergreens, not to mention the less palpable but still important senses of curiosity, focus, and wonder. It can be meditative, to prowl a favorite trail or neighborhood route with a singular focus. And novel, in looking for things that hide in plain sight.


Making wreaths is simple. If you’re not comfortable foraging locally, you can always pick up greenery at a grocery store (so many are well-stocked with evergreen this time of year!), nursery, or flower mart. You could even buy some swag and deconstruct it.



You will need:

  • Pruning shears or similar
  • Floral wire
  • Tote bag for transporting goodies
  • Bendable branches (we used red willow), or branches soaked overnight to make pliable
  • Generous selection of evergreen branches: fir, cedar, pine, etc
  • Deciduous cuttings: winter berries, lichen-covered branches, winter flowers, etc.
  • Textural elements: succulents, air plants, pinecones, moss, lichens, etc.

Take a stroll around your neighborhood, or visit your favorite local park or hiking trail. We visited a trail near me in Forest Park. Gather and clip a diverse selection of branches for shaping, various types of evergreen if you have them locally, and interesting textural elements such as pinecones, succulent clippings, winter berries, or winter flowers. Be mindful of not gathering too much from one plant, one tree, or one location. The plants thank you for your courtesy!

hasselbrink_3j5a2203Organize your materials by type.





Begin to shape the form by weaving together your branches, or simplify this part by using  a pre-made floral wreath frame, which can be found at a craft store. Tie together with floral wire.



Begin weaving the evergreen branches into your frame. Secure them with floral wire if needed.



Decide on a focal point, if you’d like to have one, where you can add your pinecones, succulents, air plant, or deciduous plant element. Fun!



Continue adding leafy boughs or other elements to fill in the negative spaces. Step back to take a look at its form: does it feel balanced, or too heavy in spots, or lopsided? You can always add and subtract. Secure any loose bits with floral wire. Clip and trim any stray elements with the pruning shears.



Take a look at it on the door! If you’re feeling it, secure it to your desired location, and feel good about life.



While it wasn’t the original plan, I like mine sitting on my credenza so much that I’m keeping it there. It has a Nordic vibe. Now, go drink some tea or hot cocoa and revel in that glorious evergreen fragrance. And give thanks for the quiet abundance of the natural world, even in winter.

Big thanks to Jessica Pezalla of Bramble Workshop who collaborated with me on this project.

  • Limner - The wreath is as beautiful as the woods that produced the elements it’s composed of. I wish everyone could take such a stroll and harvest such bounty. Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • Jean - I recently visited the Portland area for the first time and was humbled by the ethereal magnitude of the forests and plants there. The moss was amazing and I guess it thrives from all the rain. It’s the perfect environment to forage for wreath greenery. I volunteer at an arboretum on the east coast and spent the past 2 weeks making wreaths for a holiday boutique using both foraged and purchased materials. There was no better way to start the holiday. Hope you enjoy yours!ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - Lovely, my friend. Growing up in New England, my mom and I used to make fresh wreaths all the time. There’s something so satisfying about a project like this. And, of course, you make it look effortlessly cool.
    p.s. more doggie photos, please!ReplyCancel

  • Rick - a doggie tease but no photo(s) . . . unfair! (from Eastern Sierra hot springs)ReplyCancel

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *