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Christmas – the finishing touches naturally!

After such a difficult year, customers seem to be really enjoying getting ready for the holiday season and so we thought we’d suggest how you can use ingredients provided by nature to create decorations and provide some much-needed festive cheer!

Conifer cones

One of the loveliest and most versatile decorations that nature provides are the cones produced by conifer trees.  There are many walks in East Lothian where you’ll be able to collect them from the woodland floor, and at this time of year you’ll also be able to obtain them at your local florist or garden centre.  They’re often hung on Christmas trees, but have you thought of using them for a centrepiece in a bowl?

If you want to bring their rich, natural tones to life, simply spray on a little varnish (or oil).  Or create a different look for Christmas by spraying the cones with gold, silver or even snow.

Complete the centrepiece by adding a few drops of a natural essence to give seasonal fragrance, perhaps a sprinkling of colour (you could use berries from the garden or even dried cranberries) and some battery-operated led lights threaded between the cones.  (Be sure to use led lights which remain cool so you don’t cause a fire hazard.)

 

Foliage
Using foliage in the home at Christmas-time is a tradition that dates back many centuries.  Use it to decorate pictures, the hearth or mantle-piece, in a vase, on the dining table or as a wreath.
Possibly the most popular foliage is holly and mistletoe, but other evergreen plants such as ivy, Eucalyptus and conifers are attractive options too.  Eucalyptus and conifer provide scent, and adding a couple of sprigs of Rosemary will add wonderful fragrance.

These natural elements can be arranged using floristry foam, but our plant team would suggest that an informal bunch or sheaf is equally attractive!  Clearly, foliage in vases has access to water, but loose tied bunches will dry out.  Many like that look, but if you want the foliage to remain looking fresh, simply take the foliage outdoors from time to time and mist thoroughly.

A modern, and perhaps the easiest variation of a wreath is based on a circle with foliage tied at the top or the bottom.  Use a metal ring (the frame from an old light shade would work), bind it with nice ribbon, tie an attractive sheath on at the lowest or highest point and you’ve very quickly got an attractive wreath for your door, window or wall.

For many, the wreath is a classic Christmas tradition and if want to make your own but don’t know where to start, it’s probably easiest to begin with a ring of floristry foam.  Cut your foliage into appropriate lengths, allowing one third of the stem to be in the foam ring and two thirds to be in the visible part of the wreath.  Mostly this will result in your foliage being in lengths of approximately 15cm (6”).  Begin at the bottom on the inside and outside of the ring and work towards the highest point in the wreath.  A couple of tips for beginners to bear in mind; (1) try to minimise the number of stems going into the foam as too many stems will break up the ring – in other words use fewer, fuller pieces of foliage, and (2) if you lay the foliage at a slight angle, you’ll acheive a ‘fuller’ look.

If you want to be really adventurous, you could try using the foliage itself to form the base but this method is definitely not advisable for beginners!  You’ll need lots of woody but flexible stems in sufficient quantity to create a long garland of foliage which is approximately 4cm in diameter (depending on the flexibility of the stems) and at least 1m long.  Use the foliage in lengths of 30-60cm and start by binding a few stems together (gardener’s twine is ideal).  As quickly as possible, work up to the required diameter of the base.  As lengths finish, add other stems to maintain an even diameter for the base, leaving enough foliage outside the string to disguise the binding.  Towards the end of the garland, reduce its diameter remembering that it will be tied into the start of the garland.  When you’ve got a length that’s approximately 3 times the wreath diameter you want, bind the two ends into each other to form a circle.  You may find that it’s not quite a perfect circle, in which case you can simply use the twine to add on foliage as required.

Twigs & branches


A simple way to brighten up a dull corner is to cut a few twigs from the garden, pop them in a vase and decorate – an ideal and fun project that the children love to help with!  Use the twigs in their natural state, paint them or even cover them in tinfoil for a silvery look.  Decorate using baubles, sweets in gift wrap, battery-operated lights or allow the children to create their own decorations for this special tree.

Take the twig tree idea to the next level and add decorations and lights to the shrubs and trees in your garden.  It’s easy to do and a great outdoor family activity!
It’s sure to cheer up your family and your neighbours!

Hopefully this gives you some inspiration to create your own seasonal decorations, but don’t forget, the plant team are always pleased to help if you get stuck!

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