Although her gardens stopped flowering months ago, one South Whidbey florist has found a way to preserve the blooms as part of a popular and festive holiday decoration.
Emily Martin spends months air-drying buckets of colorful variations of strawflower, statice and celosia to weave into what she refers to as her everlasting wreaths. With the appropriate amount of care and storage, the wreaths will extend years beyond this holiday season.
In addition, she also intersperses the dried flowers into wreaths made with freshly foraged foliage for a more typical look. However, the greenery in these wreaths won’t last forever.
Martin, who has a horticulture degree, started her own business, Fivestone Flowers, at Foxtail Farm a few years ago. She splits her time between half an acre at the organic farm in Freeland and the gardens in the city of Langley, which she has spent the past decade cultivating.
“I really like having the balance of both because I love plants, the landscaping and the farming and the creative part,” Martin said.
Growing up just outside of the Village by the Sea, Martin always tended a garden. When she thought about what she wanted to do as a career, the South Whidbey High School alum kept coming back to plants.
Martin’s grandmother passed down a love for horticulture. Fivestone Flowers is named in honor of her, after a game she would play with her grandchildren.
This year marks Martin’s first Christmas selling the everlasting wreaths at the Foxtail Farm stand. A whole wreath sells for $75, and a half-sized one for $40.
“Once you get that hard freeze, it’s hard to have fresh flowers,” she said. “I’m trying to dry as many as possible to keep doing things like this through the winter.”
She loves using the blooms that keep their color well. In her fresh greenery wreaths – which cost $50 – the dried flowers add a pop of vivid color amongst the cedar, Douglas fir and huckleberry, which she arranges in a sprig that’s connected to the structure of the wreath with wire.
“All this material is just foraged around Whidbey, so everything’s totally local,” she said of the fresh foliage. “A lot of times we get most of our stuff from windstorms.”
She estimated that it takes her about one hour to complete each wreath.
According to Time magazine, the tradition of hanging up a wreath is as old as the tradition of bringing evergreens into the home during Christmas time, which originated during the 16th century. Wreaths were formed from clippings made from the Christmas trees.