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Circle of Life

With Practice, Amateurs Can Learn to Hoop It Up

November 25, 2000|JULIE BAWDEN DAVIS

Making a living wreath is a skill that can be mastered with practice. Once you get the hang of it, you can create a mid-sized wreath base ready for installing plants in less than 30 minutes, horticulturist Teddy Colbert said.

Here are some general steps for creating a wreath base. More detailed instructions can be found in Colbert's book, "The Living Wreath."

* Create a 1 1/2-inch-thick circular mat of sphagnum moss approximately 2 1/2 times the diameter of the frame. Put the more attractive green side of the moss facing down, as this will be the front of your wreath.

* Place the wreath frame upside down in the middle of the mat with the open end of the candleholders facing down. Mark each candleholder with skewers so that you will be able to find them after you cover the frame with soil.

* Mound moist potting soil over the wire frame. Gently pack the soil, but do not overly compress it.

* Lift the outer edge of the moss mat up and over the soil-covered frame from the north, then the south, then the east and west. Don't lift the moss in a clockwise fashion because this makes the wreath irregular.

* Make a hole in the center of the inner circle of moss and lift the moss outward and up toward the top. You will need additional moss to cover the soil.

* Wrap the moss-covered base with 24-gauge copper wire. Slip the open end of the wire under the mat of moss, bring it up and secure it to wire on the spool by a few twists, leaving a tail to mark where you have begun. Flip the spool of copper wire under the wreath again and bring it up, keeping the tension of the wire. Bring it up at three-quarters of an inch intervals from the beginning coil. Mark the interval where it disappears into the moss with an additional skewer. Keep repeating this in three-quarter-inch intervals until you come back to the beginning.

* When you reach the piece of wire that shows where you started, twist the two ends together several times and cut off the wire, leaving about three inches. Hold the base on its side and push the skewers through and then place recycled wine corks in the candleholders to mark their location and keep them from filling with soil.

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