Fall is a time of incredible abundance. Our overflowing gardens are rich with produce, and we love to share the rewards with friends and family. This autumn, celebrate your garden’s bounty by creating an exuberant wreath to welcome visitors to your home. This down-to-earth decoration, which took about an hour to make, was designed by Scott Endres, co-owner of Tangletown Gardens in Minneapolis, Minnesota. If you don’t have gourds from your own garden, they’re easy to find this time of year at garden centers, local farmers’ markets, and even grocery stores.
18-inch-diameter grapevine wreath form
Crookneck gourds in various sizes, textures, and colors
Dried lichen “reindeer moss” in colors that complement the gourds
Heavy florist’s wire twine
Pruning shears or heavy-duty scissors
Pry the dry, tough grapevines apart to relax the wreath’s stiff form. (See Photo 1.) This makes it easier to insert the gourds. If necessary, cut the thickest vines with pruners to let them move apart more easily.
Select a crookneck gourd and work the neck into the grapevines, hooking and weaving it under and through until it’s held firmly. (See Photo 2.)
Add another gourd so it nestles against the first. (See Photo 3.)
Continue working around the form, fitting the gourds firmly into each other and the grapevines. Try alternating their directions, but let the gourds’ shapes twist and drape together naturally around the form.
When four or five gourds are in place, wrap florist’s wire twine tightly around the gourds and the wreath form. (See Photo 4.) Cut the twine with pruners, twist the ends tightly, and tuck them into the grapevines.
Continue attaching gourds around the form, binding them tightly with florist’s wire twine, until the entire wreath is covered.
Fill in the open spaces with colored “reindeer moss” lichens. Stuff the moss tightly between the gourds and into the grapevines. (See Photo 5.) Its springy texture will wedge it firmly in place.
Finally, twist a length of florist’s wire twine through the grapevines to create a hanger. (See Photo 6.) Make a couple of 3-inch loops, twist the ends tightly, and tuck them into the wreath form. The gourds can get heavy, so test different attachment spots on the wreath to find the best balance. Hang on a solid support, like a gate or the front door.
For a more formal wreath, use only two or three kinds of smooth-skinned, similarly shaped and colored gourds. Combine in groups and place them evenly around the wreath.
For a more casual look, use random combinations of smaller round, oblong, flattened, and cylindrical gourds to contrast with the large crooknecks.
Miniature squash, like pattypan, turban, and sweet dumpling, will also vary the look and texture of the wreath.
Fill in with bundles of hanging sphagnum moss for a more rustic appearance.
When the wreath begins to show its age, place it in a sheltered spot where birds and other critters can enjoy it.