By Katie Jacoby
On a chilly March morning while I was pruning the American Wisteria vine, a thought began to take shape. These long twining stems could be saved from the compost and transformed into elegant handmade wreaths. They would become the base of our botanical wreath collection, a new addition to our Handmade Holiday wreath sales each November.
The abundance of renewable natural material is everywhere you look, and with a cool dark space to dry our harvest, we hit the ground running. Throughout the growing season, our horticulture team collects and dries grasses, flowers, and seed heads to preserve their natural beauty.
Steel blue globe thistles, hung to dry right before they bloom, retain their color extraordinarily. When shelled, the Lunaria plant’s seed pods look like graceful opaline ovals. The best time to harvest phragmites grass flowers is in late November when their inflorescence is at peak floof.
This practice is intended to honor a more reparative relationship with the natural world. In the past our team has ventured outside of the Garden to harvest evergreen materials for holiday wreath-making. As we begin our shift towards becoming more ecologically responsible, the reality is that our past practices have not always contributed to a sustainable future. In fact, pruning evergreen material is not always able to be done in a way to encourage regeneration of lost limbs. Poor pruning techniques, inopportune timing of pruning, and even the act of transporting evergreen boughs can lead to the spread of unwanted insect populations and disease as well as unhealthy healing processes for these trees.
Dried botanical material offers a much longer shelf life and when cared for properly can provide everlasting beauty. Harvesting exclusively from the Garden allows folks to bring a bit of this landscape home with them and celebrate the many seasons of wonder Bartram’s Garden offers while reducing our carbon footprint.
Bartram’s Garden appreciates your support of best practices for a better future of our region’s biodiversity. As we realign our efforts towards renewable harvests, we plan on sharing these botanical beauties with our annual wreath-making and sale. We hope you’ll join us to celebrate the beauties of the season!
Katie Jacoby is a horticulturalist at Bartram’s Garden.