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Leonard Moorehead, the Urban Gardener: Wreaths From the Garden

Sunday, December 17, 2017


Celebrate the winter solstice garden style. Bright lights have their place, cheerful music too. Gardeners eyeball the winter night sky and low sun on the horizon. The circle of life is our realm. Longer days, shorter nights, a new garden year begins again. 

Honey, it’s cold outside, let’s go into the garden and fashion wreaths. Dress in layers wear hats and gloves. Leave cocoa on the counter, cookies too, we must keep our strength. Lift up your hearts. Wreaths are simple and easy to make. Imagination is the chief ingredient. Involve children and others, the circular wreath encloses all. 

Rummage around the potting shed. Old garden hoses kept for “just in case” are fine frameworks for wreaths. Scavenge wireframes, upcycle old picture frames, or weave vines into the just oh so perfect shape. Gardeners resort to grape arbors, trumpet vines, kiwis, and ivy for pliable basics. Cull overgrown vines from last summer’s apogee and make the winter nadir. From now on, we’re summer bound.

Why grow sage or hollies? Wreath making for sure! Gather wreath materials from borders and shrubbery. Don’t venture into scarce green spaces or neighbor’s yards without permission. Look no further than the garden. Select silver gray sage branches, festive red berried holly branches, use long grapevines from arbors, pull rampant kiwis from nearby fruit trees. Prune back now for future growth, our annual orbit of birth and renewal is in the garden.

Wreaths offer long life spans. Arbor vitae and box are common coniferous shrubs and trees. Arbor vitae foliage retains its green luster throughout frigid arctic gales. Each part of Arbor vitae is fragrant. Note the small pine cones among the waxy foliage. Or switch over to the native cedars reclaiming disturbed soils. Prune selectively, always distribute cutting over the entire shrub rather than one region. Blue juniper berries are welcome additions to indoor and outdoor herbal wreaths. Rose hips; especially, Rosa Ragusa, offer red color. Fresh or dried rose hips are rich in vitamin C, infused in hot water, rose hips are good for gardeners and companions. 

Hollies have the stamp of tradition. No winter garden is complete without a trio of hollies. Plant 2 female hollies and a male for cross-pollination. Consider neighbors, a male holly pollinates within a 100 feet radius regardless of fences. Hollies offer a wide range of foliage shapes and colors. Deep bluish green onwards to variegated white and green leaves are common cultivars. Select varieties with the winter garden in mind. Hollies anchor the garden and few are as charming when snow blankets the mulch.

Hollies tolerate a lot of pruning. Shape the small trees, allow for good air circulation around the base. Prune just above leaf buds. Lateral shoots will respond twice as heartily at each stem cut. 

Holly boughs are thirsty. Trim stems at an angle, strip away nearby foliage and keep in water. Renew water as needed, avoid drying out. Holly foliage will remain vibrant throughout the holiday season into the New Year. Red ribbons compliment holly, strung cranberries offer another traditional aspect to wreaths and hollies.

Good winter clothing opens the garden during the winter. Wear hats and gloves. Layers conserve body heat, allow plenty of room for movement, remove or add layers as needed. Properly dressed gardeners spend more time outdoors in the spaces they love so well, the garden. 

We are rarely alone in our gardens. Sparrows colonize rhododendrons and bamboo. Blue jays and chickadees offer constant comments. Woodpeckers groom our trees, each grub they consume is one less pest on the apricots, pears and peaches. Observe stems and trucks visible in winter. Broken branches are best removed. Melt wax over cut wood or wrap in duct tape. Cover wounds in tree bark, a patch will discourage pests and diseases from entering the plant’s system. 

Spray dormant oil mixtures onto fruit trees. Jump at the chance to spray oils on dry, wind free days. Mix the dormant oil mixture indoors and bring outside to spray warm. The oils will thicken on fruit tree bark. The oils will suffocate disease spores and insect eggs. Renew environmentally friendly oil sprays a couple times while fruit trees are dormant. An ounce of prevention now pays handsomely next growing season. 

Carry snippers in a pocket. Prune away water sprouts, open fruit trees for easy picking next summer. Cut back leggy or tall shoots. Fruit trees respond well to heavy pruning. Lusty regrowth fills in gaps with fruit bearing branches. Gather up pruned twigs and branches. Weave into long-lasting wreaths. 

It’s difficult to keep gardeners out of the garden. Harvest winter greenery and herbs. Weave natural elements onto found or home- made frames. Breath in crisp winter air, feel the winter’s sunlight. Give wreaths of any size or shape to others. We’re all enclosed in the circle of life. Look into any garden and find the wreath best for you. Be generous, life is. 

Leonard Moorehead is a life- long gardener. He practices organic-bio/dynamic gardening techniques in a side lot surrounded by city neighborhoods in Providence, RI. His adventures in composting, wood chips, manure, seaweed, hay and enormous amounts of leaves are minor distractions to the joy of cultivating the soil with flowers, herbs, vegetables, berries, and dwarf fruit tree. 


Related Slideshow: 25 Things to do in New England This Winter - 2016

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Ski Ward

Shrewsbury, MA

Go tubing, skiing or snowboarding on the different terrains of Ski Ward. 

New to the mountain? You can learn how to ride with lessons from their instructors or perfect your technique if you happen to be more experienced. And don't forget to take the whole family out to Slope side Bar and Grill after a long day in the snow. 

Photo: Ski Ward

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Newport Winter Festival

Newport, Rhode Island

From February 12 to 21, Newport will be hosting the 28th annual Newport Winter Festival throughout Newport County. Hosting events like Beatlemania, chili cook-off, the Winter Festival is 10 days of music and over 150 events, providing fun for the entire family.

Photo courtesy of Newport Winter Festival

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Dog Sled Tours at New England Dog Sledding

Mason Township, Maine

Embrace the call of the wind and head to New England Dog Sledding for some dog sled tours. Tours are pulled by trained and "very friendly" Alaskan Husky sled dogs and are offered throughout the Bethel, Maine and North Conway,New Hampshire areas. You can also enjoy skijoring, which is nordic skiing pulled by a dog, so you can bring your own or rent one of theirs!  

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Curling at Ocean State Curling Club 

Cranston RI

Try something new, like curling.

The Ocean State Curling Club has your curling fix. Hosting events and tournaments or "bonspiels" at the Veteran’s Memorial Ice Rink in Cranston, RI, the Ocean State Curling Club is a "social club for anyone interested in recreational curling." The club also offers lessons for those who want to learn the sport. 

Photo: dave/Flickr

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Ice Fishing

It's practically a tradition for a lot of people but ice fishing is an interesting winter experience. Head out to the ponds and see what you can get. 

But be safe, it takes 4-6 inches of ice to support a person and 8-10 inches to support a vehicle.

Photo courtesy of Dushan Hanuska/flickr

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Ice Climbing with Adventure Spirit 

Burlington, Vermont

For the adventurous out there, Adventure Spirit in Vermont is your place for ice climbing. Choose from climbing at Bolton Quarry, Bristol Cliffs or even Smuggler's Notch to be lead by one of their experienced instructors. Be prepared to spend your day strenuously climbing some of nature's frozen streams and flow offs. They also offer alpine climbing and outdoor rock climbing for those who wish to fully test their limits.

Photo: Daniel/Flickr

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Cross Country Skiing

East Bay Bike Path, Bristol to Providence RI 

Grab your poles and skis and head down to the East Bay Bicycle Path for some Cross Country Skiing. Of course, you can go cross country skiing anywhere there is snow and some flat land, but the East Bay Bike Path stretches about 14 miles from Bristol to India Point Park in Providence. 

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Lowell Winterfest 

Lowell, MA

The 16th Annual Lowell Winterfest is set to take place on February 19 and 20th. 

The schedule f events includes free ice skating, an opening ceremony and a big winter carnival that the kids will simply love. 

Ice Sculptures, a fire dance and a city hall lighting also highlight the festival.

Photo: Mike/Flickr

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Go Snowshoeing

For those who can't ski or snowboard, snowshoeing is another way to get around in the snow. Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire ski resorts have designated snowshoeing facilities, but the best part is you can strap into a pair and walk around anywhere snow is too deep for boots. 

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Sledding in Central MA 

Last year, Central Mass was hit with a record amount of snow. While we are not wishing for that again, it did make for some great sledding hills. 

When snow comes again this year, break out the sleds. 

Here is GoLocal's latest list of great sledding spots in Central Mass.

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Beach Boys at Park Theatre 

Cranston, Rhode Island

The Beach Boys in February? You bet! The touring band led by original member Mike Love (with Newport native John Cowsill on drums) will be stopping by the Park Theatre on Valentine’s Day. 

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Snowmobiling in Vermont

Mount Snow, Vermont

Snowmobiling across the wilderness is an exhilarating and adventurous experience during the winter. 

Be sure to get on a snowmobile at least once this winter. 

Photo: Frank Kehren/Flickr

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Sledding in RI 

Winter time means it's time to get the sleds out and find some serious hills to conquer. 

Click here for Golocal's most recent list of the best sledding hills in Rhode Island. 

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Ice Skating 

Whether you are skating on a pond or at one of the many ice rinks across the region like the Alex & Ani rink in the heart of Providence or the ice rink at Worcester Common Oval, make sure to get out there and get a good skate in with friends and family. 

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Jump Around at Launch Trampoline Park 

Need to get some energy out? or get the energy out of your kids? Head to Launch Trampoline Park. They have a park in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut. 

With dodgeball, basketball, foam pits and more, indoor trampoline parks have something to offer people of all ages. Whether you want to bring a group of children for the day, or sign up a group of adults for some "xtreme" dodgeball, trampoline parks can be a great change of pace and a fun way to try something new.

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Indoor Rock Climbing

Do you need a new challenge this winter? Try one of New England's indoor rock climbing gyms. Whether you choose Rock Spot Climbing in Rhode Island, Carabiner's in Massachusetts, or Vertical Dreams in New Hampshire, rock climbing is a fun and challenging way to get some exercise without running on treadmills.

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Give to the Community

While the winter holidays are generally the biggest volunteer days of the year, any day of the year is a great time to give to organizations or people in need. The winter season is sometimes when items like food, clothes, blankets and other things are needed the most. 

Click here for how to give back to RI non profits. 

Click here for how to give back to Mass non profits. 

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Sarah Potenza at The Met 

Providence, Rhode Island 

RI native and The Voice veteran Sarah Potenza will be playing a homecoming show on January 24th at The Met

Expect a full show of classics and maybe some tunes from her new album Monster. 

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Providence Winter Restaurant Weeks 

Providence Winter Restaurant Weeks will be held until January 23 features about 80 restaurants offering three-course, prix fixe lunches for $14.95 and three-course prix fix dinners for $29.95 and $34.95.

Participating restaurants include Siena in Smithfield, Matunuck Oyster Bar, Eleven Forty Nine Restaurant, The Dorrance, Capriccio, Capital Grille and more.

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Day and Night Skiing at Wachusett Mountain

Princeton, MA

Make the best of winter by strapping on your skis or snowboard. With over 25 trails open, Wachusett also lights up 18 of these trails until 10pm for night skiing. Wachusett has rentals and lessons for beginners and terrain parks and even an air bag for advanced skiers and boarders. Night tubing is an option during speical events, too!

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 Take a Nature Walk at Squam Lakes

Holderness, New Hampshire

Squam Lakes Natural Science Center in Holderness, NH offers a wide arrange of guided tours of live animal trails. A staff naturalist leads and teaches groups how certain animals are adapted to the winter climate in New Hampshire. The guided tours are run on weekends and can be a great way to experience and learn more about nature in New England.

Photo: Doug Brown/Flickr

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Pond Hockey

Lace up the skates, grab your favorite jersey and stick and hit the frozen ponds for some hockey. Maybe just some one on one action or grab a bunch of friends and play a full scale game. 

Either way enjoy the ice. 

But be safe, But be safe, it takes 4-6 inches of ice to support a person. 

Photo courtesy of yooperann/flckr

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 Zip Line

Mount Washington, Bretton Woods New Hampshire

Soar down Mount Washington on a series of tree-top zip lines! The Canopy Tour is lead by one of Bretton Woods Adventure Guides as they describe the native fauna and flora. You'll descend over 1000 feet of elevation on this 3 hour tour. Each tour guide can take a group of up to 8, so grab some friends and zip down the mountain!

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Get the House Organized 

The weather isn't great, it's freezing out side. Winter presents a great opportunity to get the house organized. It's not the most fun thing in the world of course, but it will pay off and at the end of it, you will be glad you did it. 

Here are some ways to get organized this winter. 

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Paint and Vino

Pawtucket, RI 

Forget about winter by painting a picture of a tropical sunset at Paint and Vino, Rhode Island's first paint and wine studio. Bring children for family paint events and parties, or leave them at home to enjoy complimentary "adult beverages" as you paint. Perfect for date night, girls night out or a fun friday night, Paint and Vino's classes run for 2 1/2 to 3 hours and a spot must be reserved.

Photo: Yelp Inc./Flickr


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