The Holidays at the Garden are always a special time. The combination of evergreens, berries of every colour, and winter flowering shrubs and flowers make for a welcome respite to the grey and cold, and there’s always a certain festive magic in the air courtesy of those holiday hallmarks we all adore.
If UBC Botanical Garden were Santa’s workshop, then the Friends of the Garden, the amazing group of volunteers who run of the events at the Garden throughout the year, would be our elves. They work tirelessly during the last two weeks of November to produce beautiful hand-made wreaths which are made out of materials from the Garden (everything from evergreens to pine cones) and are sold at the Shop at the Garden.
The wreath-making process itself is a finely tuned art, perfected over years of practice. First, greenery is collected from the garden, as well as moss to help bind the materials together in the actual wreath. Bunches of foliage are then created by selecting from the piles of materials, often featuring special accents of colour and texture like berries or pine cones.
A sturdy metal frame provides the backbone for the wreath, which brings us to step number three: tucking the moist moss in the frame’s trough all the way around. Step four is laying the greenery into the moss and wrapping it around the frame concentrically, forming a tight and secure arrangement of evergreens and other materials. Finally, some finishing touches are added, like a bow or extra decorative elements.
A History of the Wreath:
Wreaths have had symbolic and religious associations through the eras. Ancient pagan people preserved evergreen branches through the winter, believing that they were channelling life-giving energy from tree spirits. Romans also conferred symbolic meaning to wreaths, bestowing gifts of green branches at New Year’s as a wish for health and vigour for family and friends during the early Roman period, and later shaping branches into wreaths as symbols of joy and victory during the classical era. The evergreen wreath also has a Christian association, with its circularity representing unity and the endurance of the sun as a metaphor for Christ’s suffering and ultimate triumph over death. The holly wreath, with its pointed leaves, was said to represent the crown of thorns worn by Christ on the cross, while evergreens in later wreaths embodied eternal life.