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THE IOWA GARDENER: Make your own holiday swag

Veronica Lorson Fowler

Create a festive holiday swag that you can make in minutes with materials you have in your backyard.
Veronica Lorson Fowler Create a festive holiday swag that you can make in minutes with materials you have in your backyard.
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Deck the halls — and your doors — with a festive holiday swag that you can make in minutes with materials you have in your backyard and around the house.

Basically all you do is to cut some greenery and bind it at the top with floral wire. Then cover with a pretty bow and hang. Here’s what you’ll need:

• Cut evergreens from your garden (or the garden center), preferably two or three types

• Two lengths of green floral wire, about a foot long each

• Needle-nosed pliers or wire cutters for floral wire

• 1 to 1 1/2 yards of ribbon, preferably wired so you can arrange it pretty

• Embellishments, such as natural or artificial berries, pine cones, and/or a holiday ornament or two

Start by arranging the first layer of evergreens on a table, holding them together at their stems and arranging them to make an attractive spray any size you want. You may need to strip some of the needles from the branches to make neat stems at the top to eventually bind together.

Add more evergreens, either of the same type or a different type. Make this second layer a little shorter and more narrow than the first. If desired, add a third layer of evergreen as well.

Add the embellishments. Lay the berries atop the greenery. If using pine cones, use additional floral wire to wrap around the base so that they’ll hang upside down from the gathered stems at the top of the swag. If using an ornament, lay it so that its hanger can be gathered up with the stems at the top of the swag.

Use a length of floral wire to tightly bind the evergreens and other materials together at the top. Leave at least 2 to 3 inches of stem at the top, stripping off additional needles as desired.

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In the back of the arrangement, twist the wire into a loop to hang the swag from. (I have a small nail on my front door that is painted the same color as the door.) Trim off excess wire.

Tie the ribbon into a generously sized bow, allowing for plenty of ribbon to drape downward.

With the other length of floral wire, thread the wire through the back of the ribbon knot. Place onto the front of the arrangement and secure the ribbon in place by twisting the wire around the first length of wire to conceal all wires. Trim excess wire.

With hand shears, trim all the stems to the same length for a neater appearance.

Swags such as these will last far longer outdoors, where the cold and damp preserves them longer, much in the same way as a refrigerator. Indoors, they’ll last one to two weeks before they start shedding their needles.

• Veronica Lorson Fowler is co-publisher of The Iowa Gardener website at www.theiowagardener.com.

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