During midwinter festivals in ancient Rome, evergreen branches and garlands were brought indoors, to serve as symbols of enduring life and to ensure a fruitful year.
With two basic techniques -- wiring materials to a metal form or applying them to a rounded straw or foam base -- you can make an infinite variety of wreaths, from greenery wreaths meant to last through the holiday season to heirloom wreaths that can be treasured for years.
Wire frames are the most versatile supports for wreaths. Widely available in a variety of shapes, they're sturdy enough for heavy materials like evergreen boughs and citrus fruits.
A single-wire frame is best for a thin, delicate wreath; for a lush-looking wreath, like the laurel wreath shown at left, start with a double-wire frame.
Attach floral wire on a paddle to the crossbar of a double-wire wreath form of any shape (we used a rectangular form for the Frasier-fir wreath above). Wear work gloves when handling any evergreen, since the needles are prickly and the sap can be sticky.
Lay a small bundle of greenery on the form, and wrap the wire tightly around the stems three times. Do not cut the wire. Add another bundle, overlapping the previous one by half; wrap wire around stems. Continue adding bundles until you reach the starting point.
Tuck wire under form, secure with a knot, and cut. When the entire form is covered, tie off the wire, leaving a few extra inches before cutting the end. To make a hanger, form the end of the wire into a loop and twist it around itself.
To make a more elaborate wreath, simply intersperse clusters of wired ornaments, pinecones, fruits, or other embellishments with the greenery bundles. For added shimmer, spray-paint a portion of the greenery gold or silver before making the bundles.