Holiday Wreath Challenge

The minimalist in me might have been perfectly satisfied with this:


But she was beaten into submission by the other part of me – you know, the one who raises her hand to participate in a wreath-making challenge.

The Charming Woodland Gnome over at Forest Garden blog issued a 2014 Holiday Wreath Challenge a few weeks ago. It’s appropriate that she issued the wreath challenge, now that I think about it. If ever a city was identified by its wreaths, it is her very own Williamsburg, VA.

Every year thousands of people descend on Colonial Williamsburg in December for the Grand Illumination and the unveiling of the incredibly beautiful and distinctive della Robbia wreaths which adorn the doorways of the historic area.


Richmond, VA is no slouch in the wreath department either. My friends over at The Gracious Posse recently posted “Wreathing Richmond.” Here is just one of the over-the-top wreaths you could expect to see should you visit our fair city.


Nothing that elaborate at my old Barn, I hasten to add. I chose to use the long basket as inspiration for the front door design. First order of the day was to gather the greens from all around the yard. You’d think I’d be smart enough by now to have worn gloves, but I have the scratches and slivers to prove otherwise.


Next to devise some sort of vessel for the fresh greens to stay that way in the basket over December. That came down to shoving an ancient Cool Whip container into the opening and filling it with wet oasis.

And then the fun part of arranging the nandina, magnolia, and evergreens.


Dahlink, I’m ready for my close-up now.




Protective eye gear highly recommended as you approach front door!

But this is a wreath challenge, right?  Every year I harvest abundant boxwood from the aged shrubs in front of the house.


The clippings soak overnight and then we’re ready to rock and roll. I use straw wreaths, place magnolia leaves on the underside, and then begin pinning neat little bundles of boxwood to the form. Lastly, they get a good spraying of Wilt-Pruf and are hung out to dry.

The boxwood wreaths are particularly nice as small centerpieces with candles.


This year I tried moss for the first time and rather like working with the stuff.  Upside: no need to get out the machete for harvesting. Downside: the wretched glue gun. Let’s just say I had forgotten how hot that glue can get.


Now for a wreath made for somebody special…..


Pine cones and seeded eucalyptus for a bit of “ribbon.”

My little English garden” cherub”, so old and cracked that he must remain indoors now, needed a little something for the holidays, don’t you agree?


All right, that’s enough wreathing for one year. I am heading into the kitchen to bake cookies, and if I’m lucky I may even catch up on my reading. That toppling-over TBR pile of mine is crying out for attention.

Maybe somebody should issue a “Book-A-Week Challenge.”

Thanks for reading,






About Silver in the Barn

Life in a 1915 farmhouse in Central Virginia. And the odd thought or two.
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107 Responses to Holiday Wreath Challenge

  1. Barbara! Gorgeous, all of them!


  2. markbialczak says:

    I christen you the champ, Barbara, for turning a wreath contest into a three-ring circus. You are worthy, my friend. ‘Tis the season for cherubs. So well done. I’ll even love the pineapple on the door up to for the spirit of the thing.


  3. dogear6 says:

    Those turned out great! Are you sure that the minimalist wasn’t harmed in making these?

    I hadn’t particularly noticed any spectacular wreaths around Richmond, but I did visit the ones in Williamsburg two years ago:



    • Thank you so much, Nancy, for the link to your previous posts. The wreaths are indeed post-worthy! I told Woodland Gnome that each year I think the W’burg wreaths are the prettiest ever. But looking back at yours, I can see that they are always glorious. Gracious Posse usually posts wreaths along Monument Ave. and in the Fan. They are quite something, aren’t they?


  4. bkpyett says:

    What a delightful blog! Your wreaths are so warm and welcoming. The pineapple the symbol of hospitality! Blessing and best wishes for this joyous season! ❤


  5. dorannrule says:

    Oh your wreaths are utterly charming and every bit as splendid as the Williamsburg varieties! Kudos my friend. I am totally impressed. 🙂


  6. Ah, the pineapple! Gladdens the heart of all Aussies, especially those from Queensland, the pine-apple state. Bromeliad family. And you used Eucalypt as well. Can it get any better? Perhaps time permitting, we can do a little dance in the Silver- Barn . Do you grow Christmas mistletoe by any chance? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry it’s taken me so long to reply, Gerard, I’ve been feverishly searching out mistletoe seeds so that next year I can add some to the wreaths just for you! In the meantime, I’m sending these across the Pacific: XXX


  7. Jodi says:

    Oh Barbara – so excited to see a blog post from you in my feed as I just finished writing tomorrow’s post. Always, always look forward to and enjoy! 🙂


    Oh My! SHUT the FRONT DOOR! I WANT WANT WANT that door, that handle, that decorative basket!

    And I will also take one of everything inside!

    You are an ARTIST with greenery and flowers!

    LOVE it all!

    Have fun baking! I may do some of that tomorrow too! And my TBR stack of books is growing very tall too!

    Oh if only there were about 25 more hours in every day! SIGH!



    • Shut the front door! That made me laugh, Jodi. Your enthusiasm for everything is so contagious, girl, you are too much fun. Yes, I am going to bake something this weekend for the church choir. It won the Pillsbury Bake-off to the tune of $1,000,000. Some strange peanut concoction. Doesn’t sound near as good as cookies you and others regularly post, but I think the peanuts will be a big hit with my Virginia crowd. I shall report the results to you!


  8. John says:

    Wow, amazing! You have the magic touch. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. nrhatch says:

    Wow! You do good work, Miss Barbara! Your front door is preening at itself, I’m sure. And your cherub seems delighted with its decked out holiday crown.


  10. Wow. You’ve been busy. I’ve been thinking about a wreath for weeks. But that’s as far as I got. Of course, I haven’t even managed a tree yet, so who worries about a wreath.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. cindy knoke says:

    The are wonderful! I just love the one on the door. Stunning~


  12. Dear Barbara, what sheer arboreal artistry! Your door bouquet rivals the “old masters.” Someone should paint it in oils for the ages. You have taken this challenge over the top. And your moss and succulents, Oooh La La… 😉


  13. WOW! WOW! WOW! Those are magnificent! And what a great idea with the Cool Whip container. I LOVE the moss one and the use of the magnolia leaves is brilliant! You rock! ❤


  14. Thom Hickey says:

    Well your craft skills are obviously in tip top shape for the season! Regards Thom (Christmas cornucopia just about to start on the Jukebox).


  15. la_lasciata says:

    MEIN GOTT !!!!!!!!!!
    I knew you were a deeply thoughtful and sensitive woman.
    I knew you were a brilliant gardener.
    I knew you were a kind and a generous person.
    . . . . . . . . .. ……. . .. . …….. …. … . . . ….
    I just didn’t know that you were … were … I’m lost for words, here, Barbara ! That arrangement in the long basket is to die for (or put out an eye for) ! It’s simply GLORIOUS !!!
    And so is everything else.
    Such bloody TALENT !!!
    And now you’re going to be self-deprecating, aren’t you ? – well, DON’T BE, or I shall give you a chinese burn !!!!!!!!!!


  16. Wes says:

    Well this is beautiful as usual, Barbra!!! I love the Robbia wreaths, that pineapple! I may try my hand at one! Great advice about the boxwood. I’ve never heard of wilt-pruf I must give it a try. Well my talented friend,Applause! Applause!


  17. Wow, they are all lovely but my favourite is the one in the long basket – brilliant! Here in the UK we have much simpler wreaths. I’ll post a photo of mine when I get it done! Happy days to you 🙂


  18. Sandra says:

    Beautiful wreaths and garlands. I’m in awe of your creativity. And pleased to see the origin of the name Dellarobia, my favourite character in Flight Behaviour. 🙂 I always leave here a little wiser. Thank you.


  19. Hang on, you’ve made FOUR wreaths this year?? We haven’t even decorated our Christmas tree yet….

    They’re simply, utterly, magnificently stunning, Barbara!! My, you are a talented woman!

    And this is the second time I’ve come across Cool Whip this week (the other in a recipe). I’d never heard of it before then. Weird how that works.


    • I’ve actually meant to write a post about that very observation, H., and mine revolves around ukuleles, not Cool Whip. Dreadful stuff, really, a totally fake whipped cream. I don’t eat it, being an extreme food snob, but somehow this container has made its way into the house and comes in handy now and then. And no tree up at my house yet either!

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Your door creation is simply glorious, Barbara, especially on that lime green! I must say that I am suffering from garden envy. Oh, to have all of those materials at my disposal, with or without gloves. Your cherub is even more enchanting dressed up with the grey tones of your moss wreath.Your handiwork once again leaves me inspired. And thanks for mentioning The Gracious Posse to your readers! I am looking forward to visiting the Woodland Gnome.


    • Truly, Alison, I have left the Gracious Posse many times with real inspiration as well. Cyber-meeting so many talented people has been enormously enriching. Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie Thumbprints in particular!


  21. Sue Mayo says:

    Williamsburg doesn’t have a thing on you Kido!
    It is all beautiful! Merry Christmas.


  22. Dianna says:

    All just absolutely gorgeous! When my mom was living, I raided her boxwoods every year for clippings to make my wreaths. It’s still my favorite wreath material, and this year, the florist where I always buy them didn’t get any large ones. So I had to resort to frasier fir.
    Love all of your work!


  23. I am grateful to the nice blog.
    It becomes very to study for me.
    I like modeling of this flower.
    It is “IKEBANA” of Japan.
    ARIGATO! !
    From Ryoma.


    • Dear Ryoma,

      ありがとう. I very much want to improve my floral arranging skills and Ikebana is my very favorite form. So much meaning and symbolism to every detail. Thank you so much for your very kind comment.



  24. Pat S. says:

    After reading the other comments, I realized everything I could possibly say has been said. So, “ditto” twenty-two times. What an amazing lady and friend you are!


  25. menomama3 says:

    Green with envy. You are a wreath artist!


    • Hello Susanne, and thank you so much. Naturally only the successful efforts made it onto the post. There was abundant wreath carnage in the background and more than a few expletives deleted. Truly, I have a blast doing it though and I’m so happy you enjoyed seeing.


  26. joannesisco says:

    I am in awe of your wreathing skills. If I thought your blue spruce arrangements were outstanding, you managed to crank it up several notches. OMG! OMG! OMG!


    • I bought everything at Wal-Mart, actually! COL!!!!! Wouldn’t that be hilarious actually? Some eagle-eyed reader going….”Hang on, I saw these wreaths at the store just yesterday….” COL!! Joanne, seriously, none of this is that difficult and one afternoon session with glue gun and you’d be whipping one out too!! But I send you sincere thanks. This is my “thing” like you have your running. We all need that something to keep us sane, right. Or at least semi…..


  27. dorothy says:

    That creative mind of yours took off like a race car. Superb job there in all your wreath makings. It gives me such joy to see how your talent is expanding by leaps and bounds. Merry CHristmas and almost Happy Birthday………


    • I owe it all to you and don’t argue with me about it. If you weren’t the kind of person to share all of your own knowledge so generously, I would still be buying a fake green wreath from Michael’s. I remember that urn decorating project so many years ago and how excited I was that I made something…..not laughable. Under your tutelage, of course. And the year we made those vintage ornament wreaths? One never knows how their small acts ripple across to others….well, you do. Right on my front door.


  28. Almost Iowa says:

    Oooooo, so much green. I miss that. (sigh)


  29. Barbara, I loved seeing all these wreaths on Instagram!! And absolutely love the one on the cherub–I brought my piggy inside for the winter–perhaps he needs a wreath!! Anyway, in case I hadn’t mentioned it, we bought property in Charlottesville, so in a few years when we build & move in I will definitely be coming to your place for some wreath making–Richmond is only a hop & a skip away!!
    Warm Regards, Cindy


    • Oh, what wonderful news. You are only two hours from me. Charlottesville is a brilliant choice and I just know you will love living there. Consider yourself as already having a friend in Virginia! And of course the piggy needs a wreath, hop to it, girl!


  30. Good Morning Barbara! Who knew when you first posted the top picture of the door? You did a magnificent piece.. a floral work of art. I have no talent for this sort of thing and I have to tell you I am jealous of your joyous enthusiasm and I love your sense of funny! You are a very cool lady! Your little cherub is darling… charming! Enjoy your Saturday.. oh if I could just come and bake cookies with you. I’d bring some MissouREE wine.. 😀


    • Years ago when my parents moved to Virginia from Colorado, they drove through MissouREE and stopped at some vineyards more out of curiosity than anything else. They were pleasantly surprised at the quality of the wine and brought some to us when they arrived. We had only whites, if I remember correctly, and they were delicious. Who knew? I would love to have you in my kitchen baking away and laughing with me. Thank you, Pix.


  31. Keep the minimalist under lock and key! These are just gorgeous! Lucky cherub…I wouldn’t mind wearing that to this afternoon’s party!


  32. Lovely decorative wreaths and cherub, Barbara. It’s been years since I’ve baked cookies. I will content myself with the wonderful aroma that I know must be filling up your kitchen. 😉


  33. Kentucky Angel says:

    Oh, Barbara, if you only knew how often I’ve tried to make a wreath! I’m completely all thumbs when I work with wreaths and flowers or greenery. Thanks God we all have our own special talents though, or this world would be in trouble from an over load of one thing and nothing else. Your decorations are beyond wonderful, and I am so tempted to print this out and tape the photos to various places around my apartment to decorate it. It would certainly beat my poor efforts of putting pine cones out to take the place of a tree.


  34. Barbara, i think I’ll just copy and print your gorgeous wreath and put it on MY DOOR! The boxed one from Macy’s can stay boxed! Just love visiting your blog and getting inspired….cookie baking…and all of that. Hard to think holiday winter wonderland things in sunny, warm Southern CA.


  35. Eliza Waters says:

    Wow, Barbara, screamingly beautiful decorations! The bright green door really sets of that gorgeous arrangement. Your moss creations are lovely and the ‘hat’ for your cherub is charming. What fun you must have had. Great challenge response! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was such a fun challenge, Eliza, and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing your lovely creations from the New England forests too. I’m looking forward to seeing what others come up with for the challenge next week. Thanks so much!!


  36. Diane Ahlberg says:



  37. KerryCan says:

    I am so far behind on all Christmas decorating–and all I’m going to do is go out and buy wreaths! You did a great job with all these arrangements–living in Virginia must bring its own kind of pressure at Christmastime!


    • With all you have going on, I’m not surprised. I wouldn’t think twice about going out and buying a wreath if I were as busy as you….I have the time and the desire to do these little projects; otherwise, they wouldn’t happen at all. Thanks a bunch!!


  38. Behind the Story says:

    I’m flabbergasted! I thought you would just make one wreath. But no, you made many, and all of them beautiful. I don’t know which one I like best. And thanks for showing us something about your process–just in case I ever get around to making my own.


  39. Kate says:

    Stunning!! I wish we could do real-greenery wreaths here, but it’s all we can do to keep a real tree (standing in water) alive til Christmas – it just gets so hot!! Though I have been known to twist a few small branches of hebe (Wiri Wiri) into mini wreaths – they last a few days. Beautiful as always, Barbara – Bravo! xx Kate (fig)


    • Ha! Kate, you put Wiri Wire in parentheses like I would know it that way! I’ll have to look up both names! Yes, it is the strangest thing to imagine Christmas in sundresses and flip flops, but something I could be convinced to try. All of you in Australia have been in our hearts and minds over these past two days. Such terrible news.


      • Kate says:

        Thank you – it has been shocking, and so close to home. But what then happened in Peshawar is just agonising. Messed up world – so let’s focus on the happy of this time of year! Yes, Christmas Day I shall probably be wearing a dress that only touches the shoulders, and no where else – no shoes, and plenty of seafood and iced drinks! Wiri Wiri is a type of hebe (I think from New Zealand). Heat and drought tolerant, good medium size bush with white or purple tufty fleurs. Might even be deer-proof… who knows?!?


      • Absolutely right, Kate. Not five minutes ago I was watching the reports on Peshawar. It just reinforces how important it is to be thankful for every moment we can live safe and sound surrounded by those we love! And your description of your Christmas Day sounds perfectly glorious. XXX


  40. reocochran says:

    I am tardy for the wreath comments, so sorry, my good friend! First of all, I loved the empty basket, so pretty and could be perfect any season. A triumph for minimalism!
    The second part, where you summoned all kinds of wonders to place inside this, with appropriate forethought to prevent drying is fabulous, dahlink!
    The next part, going farther than anyone would expect, sprinkling wreaths of boxwood everywhere is amazing.
    Lastly, my precious and most favorite one, the wreath for the cherub’s head. Wow, Barb! You know this is another magazine worthy post! (The one where you used the pretty branches of blue spruce was fantastic, too!) xoxo You are the best!


  41. DebtGirl says:

    I love the wreaths and the cherub!!!


  42. Outlier Babe says:

    Alison said what I would have, and better regarding the beauty of your door arrangement–quite marvelous, Barbara–and slight envy (my now-diminished garden-less circumstances a constant source of sadness) but wanted to add how much I love that you exposed the dirty underbelly of your Cool Whip container!


  43. cat9984 says:

    Your wreaths are so beautiful! I love that you used so many types of greens – it makes them so eye-catching.


  44. Sara says:

    I’m a little late…but just discovered your blog this morning and I love it!! Lovely wreathes…but want to ask about the soaking of boxwood overnight? Is this for indoor use? Would it be helpful for my outdoor wreathes too?


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