Christmas decorations, naturally

PA Photo/Handout/Jackie Noble
PA Photo/Handout/Jackie Noble

You may be tempted by expensive, fancy table decorations and wreaths in the shops, but, if you look in your garden, you’ll find some brilliant indoor adornments for free.

All you need for an effective table decoration, for instance, is a few uniform-sized small glass holders into which a single cone can be placed, topped with a flower such as an orchid, as demonstrated by Judith Blacklock, principal of The Judith Blacklock Flower School, who has taught celebrities including Kirstie Allsopp, Gordon Ramsay and Keeley Hawes.

“It’s such a wonderful time because gardens and hedgerows are full of wonderful things you can use at this time of year, including bare stems, fir cones and berries. Just use your eyes and if you see something exciting, you can make something wonderful with it,” says Judith.

Garden foliage can form the base of a cornucopia of decorations. Take clippings from evergreens including conifers, box, holly and ivy, to make a base for wreaths and swags to which you can add berries, fruits, baubles and bows.

Common plants which are ideal for indoor decorations include Skimmia japonica, which has glossy red berries and leaves which are much easier to handle than holly because they don’t have the accompanying spikes, Judith says.

“Variegated holly is another great choice because of the wonderful variegated foliage, while berried ivy, Hedera helix ‘Arborescens’ produces black fruits which are at their best at Christmas.

“Fruiting ivy can be found in virtually every garden hedgerow and placed in a vase with flowers like anemones threaded through,” she explains. “Spray the leaves with gold for a really festive effect.”

Add skimmia and bay from your garden to traditional wreaths. If you want to add bits of dried fruit, cinnamon sticks, berries or baubles, make sure you have plenty of them because, if you only have a few, they are much harder to place.

Judith says: “Go natural - collect, use and spray leaves, berries, seed heads and cones. The best way to spray is by placing your finds in a small box. Spray once, close and rattle the box, then open and spray again.

“Smooth textured plant material takes spray much more effectively that those with a rough texture such as teasels.”

I personally always buy a real Christmas tree because the clippings go some way to creating an impressive wreath or table decorations.

Even if you have an artificial tree, you can clip a few branches of your own conifer or pine to make it look real, Judith notes.