KENTVILLE, NS - He employed his wreath making skills to earn extra money while he was studying horticulture and he now hopes to share the seasonal craft with the wider community.
Town of Kentville landscape horticulturalist Chad MacPherson facilitated a Christmas wreath-making workshop in the Calkin Building, the winter home of the Kentville Farmers Market, on Dec. 3. It cost $28 to register for the workshop, with a portion of the proceeds being donated to the farmers market. The fee also covered the cost of materials.
A graduate of the Horticulture and Landscape Technology program at the Nova Scotia Community College Kingstec Campus, MacPherson said they had various workshops and classes on how to earn money from horticulture during the winter season, including wreath making.
“When things ramp down in the horticulture season, that means usually for most of us in the industry that we’re laid off for the winter,” Macpherson said.
While still in school, wreath making became a way for the Glace Bay native to help pay the bills. He used to go home to Cape Breton for Christmas with his car loaded with wreaths he made in his Kentville apartment. He’d sell them to pay for the trip.
After graduating, he invested in materials and kept producing wreaths at Christmas time, selling them by word of mouth and through social media. He said an added benefit is that his house smells great with all the spruce bows in his workshop.
After being hired by the Town of Kentville earlier this year, he decided to put his wreath-making skills to work by engaging the community in a fun afternoon workshop. He hopes to make the workshop an annual event with more participation in the future. MacPherson sees it as a way to give back to the community that employs him.
MacPherson takes an environmentally friendly, sustainable approach to his wreaths. Aside from the metal hoop frame and wire, the materials are natural, readily available and regenerate. He sources his frames from a distributer in Brooklyn who specializes in wire products.
He uses readily available Norway spruce boughs but doesn’t cut entire trees to source them. He picks and choses, essentially pruning about a third of a tree. This helps promote new growth for next year.
Using cuttings from the spruce boughs - approximately the size of the palm of his hand - MacPherson uses wire to attach them to the metal, double ring frame. He partially overlaps and layers the spruce until the frame is filled.
At the workshop, he was using staghorn cedar, holly and Chinese juniper to decorate the wreaths. MacPherson said this adds variety to the colour pallet and helps add a bit of texture. Along with pinecones and ribbon, these elements allow the wreath builder to be creative and somewhat personalize the creation.
He said there’s no wrong way to make a wreath and it’s pretty much open to individual interpretation. It can be a great family activity and he expected every wreath produced in the workshop to have a different look.
“You let your own creativity do the work for you once you get it on the frame,” MacPherson said. “It’s a really cool thing to be able to walk away with something so specifically unique to them.”
Through his work as a town horticulturalist, MacPherson plans to incorporate many of the plant species he uses to make wreaths into various spaces throughout Kentville. That way, once they’re established, there will be an abundance of materials readily available for harvest year after year.
If you’re interested in purchasing a wreath, contact MacPherson at 902-698-9158 or visit him on Facebook.