Arboretum Kicks Off Holiday Workshops

Like the Christmas tree, the wreath is a staple among holiday decorations, dating back to the 16th century, when German Christians displayed them with candles as a sign of their hope in Christ. Today wreaths are still a holiday favorite.

Many people opt for artificial wreaths because they’re easy to store and reuse again the following year. And while real ones aren’t as practical, they do offer a type of simplistic beauty that just can’t be replicated.

So if you’re looking to refresh your holiday décor this year, why not consider a wreath made with freshly cut evergreens.

Workshops being offered the first weekend in December at the State Arboretum of Virginia in Boyce can guide you through the process of making one, using natural materials collected from the grounds. In addition to the greenery, volunteers will be stockpiling pieces of boxwood, magnolias, pods, berries pine cones and other types of plant sprigs to give participants lots of options as they unleash their creativity.

The holiday workshops had been an annual tradition at the arboretum for about 30 years, according to Events and Volunteer Coordinator Koy Mislowsky, who is helping to coordinate the workshops. Over the decades, they grew in popularity and size.

“It was a 10-day extravaganza,” Mislowsky noted.

Eventually, collecting the greenery and natural materials became an arduous task for the volunteers. “They just quit doing it because everyone was burned out and worn out,” Mislowsky said.

The Arboretum stopped holding the workshops altogether for several years before reviving a scaled down version of the event last year. This holiday season, the arboretum will provide instruction on wreath-making over a two-day period: 9 a.m. to noon and 1:30- 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 4 and 1:30-4:30 p.m. on Dec. 5.

Mislowsky said the workshops continue to be popular because most people can’t get access to the type of greenery and natural materials that are collected on the grounds of   the arboretum.

For that reason, people should sign up and reserve their spot as early as possible, Mislowsky said. Cost for making a 12-inch wreath is $34 and a 20-inch wreath is $44. Members of the Foundation of the State Arboretum get a $6 discount.

The State Arboretum of Virginia is home to thousands of trees, including 300 ginkgo trees and other collections of woody shrubs, herbs and Virginia native plants. It is located on the grounds of Blandy Experimental Farm, a 700-acre University of Virginia research facility at 400 Blandy Farm Lane off of U.S. 50 East in Boyce. To make reservations or for more information call (540) 837-1758 Ext. 223 or visit www.virginia.edu/blandy/