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Make a fashionable wreath from backyard trimmings

Wreaths made of natural vines, often out of one's own backyard, are a favorite this year with many renowned hostesses and interior designers. And they are a nice alternative or addition to the more traditional evergreen wreaths.

The ingredients for making a vine wreath are simple: fine-gauge wire, slender grapevines or monkeyvines, pliable twigs, such as weeping willow, blueberry, or forsythia. Or all of them. If vines are stiff, make them more pliable by coiling them loosely and soaking them for a day in the bathtub or a bucket of water.

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Then shape the vines or twigs into a circle or an ellipse of the desired size , loosely arranging and winding the vines or binding them more tightly. Tuck in loose ends and fasten with the wire. Then hang in a dry place for a few days. The wreath can be used in its natural state or decorated with small Christmas balls, bows, ribbons, pine-cone clusters, or dried flowers. It can also be frosted with gold or silver spray paint, or dusted with glitter on a spray adhesive.

Dried flowers that can be tucked into the vines include baby's breath, Austrian daisies, and cornflowers. Dried red peppers are another decorating possibility, along with such dry herbs as mint, sage, rosemary, basil, and thyme.

The monkeyvine wreath shown here was made by Anna and Doug Whitlow of High Point, N.C., for the Sarreid furniture accessories showroom. After making a few of the wreaths for themselves, they were invited, in their spare time, to make many sizes for showroom display. At Sarreid, the vine wreaths with their rough, outdoorsy textures are a pleasant contrast to the elegant finishes of the products shown.

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