By Stephanie Cavanaugh
MY DEAR FRIEND Margot passed away last month. She was taken while gardening, they say, by a mosquito bearing West Nile virus. This was just shy of her 97th birthday, mere days before her annual trip home to Germany, where she was booked into her usual draconian spa where she would fast for two weeks and stomp through the mountains and take saunas, always returning looking 10 years younger.
She was strong as a bull, and anyone who knew her expected her to celebrate her 110th, probably by shoveling snow, or planting a few hundred tulips with a spoon.
I should have known something was very wrong when Margot, my hydrangea, died this summer. Margot, my friend, gave it to me 15 years or so ago, and it tossed off gorgeous pink blossoms and grew wilder and more glorious each season. And then it stopped. Just. Stopped. Gone, pfft.
The point being, there will be no wreath from my friend Margot this year. She always ordered one from Wreaths of Maine, a big bushy thing with a few pine cones, a fake red velvet bow, which I would rip off and replace with a purple bow to match the ones in the window boxes, and dreadful red plastic apples, which I would toss out and replace with sprigs of baby’s breath, which dried nicely and gave the impression of snow.
My Baby thought I needed a replacement idea. She sent me a clipping from the October issue of Southern Living of a wreath from kinsmangarden.com that’s made from a wire-and-jute form filled with potting soil, into which you plug pansies and cabbages and mums and sprigs of rosemary and mustard and such—along with their roots.
Once the wreath is assembled, you lay it down on the ground and water it. Give it a day to drain, or as many hours as you have patience for, and hang it. Every once in a while, or when it appears near death, take it down, lay it flat and water it. Given some care, it’s supposed to last through spring.
In my case, this is highly unlikely, watering not being my strong suit. But perhaps you’d like to try: It’s quite lovely.
Less complicated is a wreath featured in the November/December issue of always-enchanting Flower Magazine. Atlanta-based floral designer Erin McClendis, of E. Vincent Floral Design, took a wreath form and covered it with tidy bundles of Douglas fir, then added carnations and roses inserted into floral water tubes, along with juniper berries and shiny bits of fake stuffs. You will need to remember to add water to the tubes every once in a while, but it too should last through the winter.
Even simpler: Get a premade fir wreath and just jab it with flowers and tie on a big bow.
As for me. Several years ago my brilliant designer friend Alice Wilson gave me a brass wreath covered with articulated brass flowers and leaves, which can be displayed as is, or bent about to hold flowers and feathers and bows and vines . . . which she does on her own, to brilliant effect, varying it throughout the year for the seasons and holidays and such.
I’ll stick mine up just for the holidays, decorate it with flowers that dry, and hang it on our front door suspended by a big purple bow. It will look swell with no care at all.
Unless it gets stolen, in which case I’ll just hack a bough of fir from the bottom of the Hanukkah bush, suspend it from the door, and call it done.