This December is proving to be exceptionally mild here, but it is a time of year when the options for bringing cut flowers into the house is quite limited. I find that just having a few small posies with cuttings such as Rosemary, Box, Holly, Viburnum or early flowering Hellebores helps continue the cutting period. I have a lovely climbing rose which is still flowering and just a few stems bring a welcome splash of colour. I would be a bit lost with my large Viburnum tinus as it has lovely subtle white flowers, green foliage and black berries. Just a jug on it's own brings a taste of the outside in. Viburnum bodnantense has lovely, fragranced flowers and a few cut stems will scent a room and bring cheer. Use small jugs, jam jars, or old paste jars that don't require a lot of stems to create a little display of foliage, flowers or seasonal berries.
Fresh flower wreath
I don't normally advocate the use of artificial floral foam as it doesn't biodegrade and some flowers don't like having their delicate stems forced into oasis and will flop. In this case, though, I wanted a wreath with fresh flowers and without the oasis, they would shrivel so I did buy a pre-prepared oasis ring. Give it a good soak in the bath first and then lay it flat on newspaper and add foliage around the outer rim first (I've used Yew clippings). Cover the remaining bare foam with your chosen foliage or flowers. Leave a short stem for sticking into the foam. I've used Viburnum tinus, Holly, Euphorbia amygadaloides and Erysimum 'Bowles' Mauve'. I like the understated look, but you could easily bling it up with some bows, baubles or berries if you wish. Tie some garden twine or ribbon around the wreath base before adding the plants for hanging. You may need to soak the entire wreath a few times over the Christmas period to keep the flowers looking fresh. This type of wreath is best made nearer to Christmas, say a week before, or you could remove any flowers that have gone over and add replacements for a continual fresh look over a number of weeks.
We've been trimming our garden hedges which are a mix of native shrubs like Holly, Viburnum opulus, Yew, Dog Rose, Hawthorn, Willow and Hazel. Rather than throw the clippings away, we made use of them. The spiky Hawthorn clippings have been placed over my newly cleared cutting beds to keep the cats off and my lovely husband, Jamie, fashioned these cute 'Stick Man' figures for our children.
A few cuttings of Viburnum bodnantense and Willow have been placed in a jug for the buds / catkins to open. Finally, we made a Christmas star from the hazel sticks. So you can see how handy it is to have a hedge!
As the year progresses into Winter and the number of flowers to cut dwindles, it's a lovely time to go foraging in the hedgerows for natural materials to make decorations for the house like lichen-covered twigs, pine cones, beech mast, seed pods (Nigella and Poppy) and Autumn leaves which you can press flat. Ideally, collect your foraged material in the Autumn before it is too badly weathered by the cold and rain. I collected assorted sizes of tree cones - pine, fir and alder, along with some beech mast which look like little stars. These materials are great for making Christmas decorations such as dried wreaths and Christmas baubles. You can pick up a cheap hot glue gun for under £10 which will open up a world of crafting opportunities!
This simple Christmas wreath has been made by glueing collected materials to the pre-bought natural wreath base with a hot glue gun. A light spray of silver paint on the alder cones adds a festive feel and a few fresh clippings of Box foliage provide some greenery. You may need to keep adding fresh clippings if it dries out too much over the Christmas period but it only requires a few sprigs to look good. This wreath is designed for indoor use.
Finally, an idea for a simple table decoration. Place a simple white candle in a jam jar or small glass pot and hold it in place with fresh cranberries. I sprinkled on a bit of fake snow that I pinched from my children who'd found an old 'magic snow kit' in the Christmas decoration box that we hadn't used but you could use desiccated coconut or granulated sugar for a similar effect. Add a few sprigs of greenery such as Rosemary, Holly or Box for a festive touch.