Natural Christmas Decorations
It’s that time of year when we’re bombarded with adverts on tv and in magazines about what we should be buying and how we should be decorating our homes for the festive season. It is possible, however, to celebrate Christmas without spending lots of money and without the need for lots of stuff made from plastic. When it comes to decorating the home and presents the garden can be a great resource for beautiful natural materials. In the days before consumerism people would deck the halls with boughs of holly, create swags of ivy and bring colourful berries indoors, all picked from their garden or the hedgerows. And the great thing about these decorations from nature is they can go on the compost heap once the festivities are over.
Evergreen foliage, colourful stems, bendy branches, berries, pine cones and seed heads can be employed to make wreaths, garlands, baubles, bowl arrangements and napkin decorations. You can even replace shiny gift bows on presents with a dainty cluster of alder or larch cones or a hand-picked posy of fragrant, evergreen herbs such as rosemary, thyme and bay. Herbs make a lovely addition to table decorations adding fragrant wafts – try them arranged around glass candle holders and the warmth of the candle will help to release the aromas of the herbs.
Bendy birch branches or hazel stems can be woven to make wreath bases. These are pretty enough to be decorated in their own right – simply wire in cones and vibrant berries. Alternatively, if you prefer something more traditional cover the base with a layer of fir branches. If you don’t have a fir tree in your garden it’s easy enough to pick up branches of fir from a florist or from a Christmas tree farm. I nearly always have to trim our Christmas tree a bit once we get it home so that it fits in the dining room and these trimmings don’t go to waste.
Holly is a Christmas classic and I like to pop a few sprigs into a wreath. Garden shrubs such as the colourfully-stemmed dogwoods (cornus), Viburnum tinus, with its fragrant white flowers and metallic blue-black berries, and pyracantha can all be used to jazz up evergreens.
Keep an eye out when you’re on countryside walks for interesting seed heads such as teasels and the silvery moon-like discs of honesty. I also like to gather in a handful of crab apples which I wire into wreaths.
If you catch the natural decorating bug, there’s a whole host of plants that you can grow specifically for interior decorating. Everlasting flowers have papery petals that can be preserved by drying them for a few weeks in an airing cupboard or somewhere similar. Once dried they can be transformed into all manner of decorations. Everlastings such as helichrysum, statice, acroclinium and craspedia can all be easily grown from seed in spring for a late summer harvest which can be stored in boxes until needed.
* If you have pets or children in your home over Christmas make sure you keep these decorations out of reach as many garden and hedgerow plants are poisonous.
Om Louise Curley
Louise is a horticulturalist, garden writer and author of the award-winning book The Cut Flower Patch. She’s passionate about the power of plants to make us feel happy and is an advocate for organic gardening and encouraging wildlife into gardens.Get to know Louise Curley
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