Native holly and cedar branches make beautiful holiday wreaths by Mary Reid Barrow

A big paper bag of Virginia cedar covered with blue berries and a sack of American holly sprigs adorned with red berries…that’s all we needed.

After a visit to my favorite cedar tree in a friend’s yard in Virginia Beach and a walk around the edges of my daughter Isabel’s Charlottesville neighborhood, we had our holiday wreaths almost ready made.

We only added straw wreath forms and wreath pins  from Michaels and colorful  bows from McDonald Garden Center to the mix of beautiful greenery.

On the day after Thanksgiving, we spread everything out on the table on Isabel’s porch and we were all set to make the prettiest, just-about-as-local-as-you-can-get holiday wreaths for our doors.

The long graceful slender branches of Eastern redcedar, as the books call it,  easily wrap around a wreath form as filler.  The female cedar’s pretty blue berries also make a beautiful finishing touch.

Many years ago when my father owned a farm up in Nelson County, he would go up in mid- December and cut down cedar holiday trees for us and friends.

I’ll never forget that wonderful cedar fragrance throughout the house, nor will  I forget how frustrating it was to decorate those slender branches.  Fortunately,  in  those days, shiny tinsel made up for myriad of ills.

Glossy American holly with its bright red berries  has long been a festive December decoration and a mass of it in a bowl always looks just right. The leaves also not only fill in round the base of a wreath  but gathered in  prickly clusters of leaves and berries, holly makes a colorful  accent on top of the wreath.   Again, it’s the female holly  tree that bears the beauty.

Isabel and I love the berries borne by the ladies on both holly and cedar and so do the birds.  We might find one or two enjoying a holiday treat from our wreaths and thus adding to the pleasure  of  our hyper-local decorations.

Who could ask for anything more?

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