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Local Limelight: Weeklyish Articles Of Interest

Gifts From The Garden: Herb Wreaths
By: Laura Altvater

Whether money is tight or not, it is always wonderful to give gifts from your garden.  Winter is the best time to plan your garden for growing next year’s creations.  It is easy, therapeutic, economical and good for the environment.  Some of my favorite garden grown gifts include herbal wreaths, potpourri, tea blends, smudge kits and salves.  This 2 part series article will look at some of the plants you can grow for wreaths and salves, as well as instructions on how to make them.
Herb wreaths are wonderful decoration any time of year.  It is so inviting to welcome your guests with a waft of lavender.  When selecting plants try to choose a variety of colors and textures.  Some of my favorite, easy plants include: poppy & nigella pods, yellow dock seed heads, lavender, broom corn, yarrow, roses, peony, lemon verbena, sage and pearly everlasting.  Poppies, nigella, broom corn, lemon verbena, yarrow and sage will all give you a good harvest in the first year.  These plants all thrive in full to part sun with average soil and water.  Poppies and nigella are easiest from seed, although starts are available at local nurseries and farmer’s markets as well.  Yellow dock is a common weed in Portland.  You can dry herbs and flowers through the season by hanging them upside down in a warm ventilated area.  You can also assemble a wreath with fresh material.  

How to make a wreath

In addition to the plant material, you will need a wire or stick wreath ring (can easily be made from grape vines or other flexible vines), paddle wire, and clippers

  1. Attach one end of the paddle wire securely to the wreath ring.  Pulling the wire tight around your plant material is the key to holding the wreath together for a long time, so be sure to fasten the wire on really well.  
  2. Make a full (2-6” wide depending on the ring size) bundle of plant material 2-5” long.  You will be attaching the plant material in little bundles the whole way around the wreath.  Your bundles can be a mix of plant material or just one plant.  Either way presents fun patterns in the wreath.  
  3. Place the bundle on top of the wreath ring and wrap the paddle wire around the stems so it is held on tight.  
  4. Make another bundle and place it just below the first and wrap the paddle wire around the stems 2-4 times.  
  5. Continue this until the wreath ring is full.  The last bundle should tuck nicely under the first.  Sometimes it helps to have a slightly smaller bundle with shorter stems for the last one.
  6. Once your wreath ring is full, leave an inch or two of paddle wire and cut off the spool.  Secure the loose end onto the wreath frame.
  7. Make a loop of paddle wire to attach to the back and top of the wreath for hanging.  Ta-dah!

The majority of the plants in this article are available through Mostly Medicinals, LLC.  We are a small backyard business in SE Portland.  Our mission is to provide the community with “groovy grown” herbs and medicinals that are also beautiful in the landscape.  “Groovy Grown” is our term for describing our sustainable growing and business practices.  We use organic products whenever possible and buy as local as possible.  Come spring you can find our plants at Portland Farmer’s Market at PSU on Saturdays, Portland Nurseries, A-Boy on Barbur Blvd, Blue Heron Herbary, Artemesia, and Yesterday and Tomorrow in North Portland.  

Please visit our web site for a full listing of our plants and volunteer opportunities.  Our website will be updated in the new year with exciting new plants, recipes for making your favorite medicine, plant lists for specific sites and classes and special plant sales for 2009.  Please email or call us to set up an appointment for a visit or ask questions.  (503) 788-1829 or


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