Christmas is a coming…

The shops are now bursting with goodies ready for Christmas, it’s about time to order the turkey and make that all important gift list, which for me seems to grow every year.  Everything is festive, pretty and colourful and we are all on the look out to how we can make it even better than last year.


It is an expensive time, I tend to start my shopping in early November because I am a browser and I like to think about the gifts I am buying for people before I make that all important purchase.  It’s a perfect occasion to be creative and save money in the process; I have a wealth of hobby style books at home and this week the collection has grown by one.  My new edition concerns Christmas and contains creative ideas and recipes in order to make your Christmas perfect, I was suitably impressed by the little timetable of events at the front of the book.  The schedule ran throughout the year, with the majority share of the work kicking off in October!  Giving advice to when you should make your Christmas cake and preserves and when to assemble your wreath, in all honesty it was a bit depressing.  I am a natural planner, but I like to have a little flexibility and I don’t really make preserves; I also tend to keep my list in my head and so I avoided that page.  However the book did provide some great inspiration for Christmas decorations and wreaths, which I am hoping to try out for my Festive markets in December.


It is however possible to construct a wreath completely out of collected garden material, a florist round metal frame, plus florist wire and bright coloured ribbon.   Foliage such as Holly, Ivy and garden berries and other foliage are great for this and all can be collected usually from a garden or during a Sunday walk.  At the same time collect some pine cones and you then have everything you need for a nice little wreath, table posy and even a matching fireplace garland.  To make the wreath all you need to do is wire the foliage onto the frame of your wreath with your stub wire; attach the foliage around so it is flowing around in a spiral direction and you will then achieve the circular ever flowing wreath.  Be careful with the Holly though, I would suggest wearing garden gloves because of the spikes!  Mix in some berries and pine cones here and there, no real rules to follow, whatever looks natural and nice.  Just be sure to attach using your wire securely.  You can even add roses here and there because they look good even when they have dried out and are no longer fresh.  Finish the wreath with a nice bow at the top and hey presto you have a fantastic display for your door!  Very easy to do!  You can also put together some matching round table posies with the same material if you have some Oasis and a pretty pot.   Finish it off with a candle, but use for decoration only because a lit candle is a fire hazard. If you also want a garland, just wire the foliage and cones etc securely onto some thick garden string instead and turn as you go so the display is evenly spread.  If using garden material I would watch out for snails and other little creatures, it can be somewhat distracting to have a little pair of eyes looking up at you/your guests when eating dinner.


At this time of year, squirrels and birds will be collecting up food and nuts for the colder months to come.  Only this Sunday morning after a recent red berry collection with my partners Mum for my wreaths; I was disappointed to find a little squirrel eating all of the red berries off the cut stems directly out of the bucket.  I neglected to notice I had effectively displayed an ‘all you can eat’ buffet for this little squirrel in my garden and I can now say the bucket is now in my garage and I have saved the red berries from destruction.  However it did give me the basis for a new idea!  Why not turn a wreath into a bird feeder and display in your garden, all you need for this is a moss covered constructed wreath (you can buy these from most hobby style shops), some little mini bags of nuts and seeds (preferably in netting style bags), some coloured raffia type ribbon/string and a mini garland of straw or large seeds if you can get one.  The moss wreath is naturally pretty and therefore all you need to do is wire the little bags attractively around the wreath here and there, wire the raffia and arrange the mini garland in swag shapes around the wreath.  I would suggest using extra wire because I have a feeling that little squirrel is going to be extra clever and I am sure he would love to take the whole bag away if he could.  I also now feel less guilty about removing the ‘all you can eat’ buffet and what a fantastic little idea for your garden!


Happy arranging!    PS – If you try and of my ideas, please do post pictures etc to my Facebook wall – I would love to see the results of your hard work.

Ghosts and Ghouls

The nights are drawing in, the clocks have gone back and the colours of the trees and foliage are amazing; I love this time of year!  Burnt oranges, yellows and browns are everywhere; it is a great time of year to collect lots of free goodies from good old mother-nature. Fruits like apples and pears are in abundance and we can all easily enjoy English favourites like Apple Pie and heart warming pumpkin soup and even take part in some apple bobbing.


Autumn is a great time for flower arranging, this year our normal Halloween pumpkin has become multi-functional.  It was not only a provider of a meal, but it also was used as a lovely holder for a display of flowers.  Creating a lovely eco container! Try adding miniature Gourds (Tiny Pumpkins in a huge array of colours – yellows, oranges, even spotty ones) next to the larger exhibit to add extra definition to your display. The Gourds also look good piled up (with or without wood bark and pine cones) on a wooden rustic cheese board surrounded by tea-lights in miniature holders, the colours look just amazing.  Miniature pumpkins also look good pinned into a larger flower arrangement with autumnal flowers and leaves, it adds a point of interest and gives a real feel of the seasons; try adding candles (but do not light due to fire hazard) for extra dimension.


Many florist shops add Halloween balloons, black and orange ribbons/tassels/wrapping and even plastic ghosts and ghouls on sticks to their arrangements.  All very nice, but for me I prefer natural items rather than the plastic commercial type; it seems more fitting with the season somehow.  If you really must add a little extra, a nice non-plastic idea is to make your own little ghost on a stick.  Crazy but very effective; place a small Satsuma at the top of a wooden kebab stick, (wipe juice away) next add a large white hankie (cotton if possible) and place the hankie on top of the Satsuma and arrange into a traditional ghost shape, then tie thin black ribbon directly below the Satsuma (the waist of the ghost shape) finally draw on two black eyes and you have your home-made ghost ready to pop into your arrangement!


Pine cones, chestnuts, leaves and sprigs of holly can all be collected up for the months to come; great for your Christmas decorations.  Autumn is a great time to prepare and it’s a perfect time to have a lovely walk in the country and collect bountiful bags full of natural items that can be re-used.  In the case of pine cones this reuse can happen for many years to come.  Pine cones look great in Christmas wreaths and decorations; you can spray then with glitter or keep them natural and then hang on the tree.  I have even placed pine cones with fairy lights in a tall glass vase for a nature inspired light arrangement; this can be used all year round!


Now is also the time to dry out your oranges/orange segments for your Christmas decorations. These can be hung on the tree, used upon wreaths/table decorations or even distributed within winter Potpourri.  The best way to dry out oranges is to cut marks into the flesh, make a pattern and dry them out on a rack for a few days, somewhere warm is best.  Combined with holly, cinnamon sticks, foliage, leaves and pine cones and hey presto you have an amazing natural display.


I remember at school I was taught that Autumn was a time of Harvest celebration dating back to the Pagan times; feasting on the crops of the year, with large displays of fruit and vegetables distributed to the needy.  Its seems that once the Halloween and Firework night celebrations are over the end of Autumn draws near and we all certainly start to think about Christmas and the festivities to come.  But for now it’s nice to enjoy it before winter really kicks in and when we start to dream of snowy/icy scenes and warm cosy fires.


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