Keeping in line with the sharing spirit at this time of the year, I have created six simple but stylish decorations that take no time to prepare, can set you into a relaxing Christmas mood, and be assembled well in advance of the big day.
Before starting, bear in mind that most flowers and foliage will dry well and retain colour, if collected fresh and left undisturbed in a cool room for a few weeks. You should also consider using recycled materials from past Christmases such as those lovely ribbons, or the old tatty wreath whose damaged bits can be easily disguised with foliage. You may equally enhance your craft pieces with your favourite Christmas decorations, as they are often overlooked when combined (and crammed) with other ornaments on the tree. Finally, add candles for a warm and festive glow.
Twigs and branches work wonderfully well as a table centrepiece with candles. Any tree will do for this purpose. As it happens in nature, tree branches and twigs combine strikingly in colour, shape and texture with foliage and berries. Pieces of birch and corkscrew hazel are some of the most attractive. Here, twigs of hazel have been gnarled are displayed with conifer stems for foliage, pyracantha branches with berries and pine cones. Don’t forget to place holders under the candles for safety. (Fig 1)
Strips of bark tied with a ribbon hug the candle. I have used oak bark from winter fire logs, but any bark will do as long as it’s dried; otherwise, it can break easily into small pieces. The bark’s rough texture constrasts beautifully with the softness of the ribbons and the candle light. A few holly berries and some small ornament will set-off the display. (Fig 2)
Another way of adorning candles is with stems and leaves. The image shows snowgum and bay leaf. Use an elastic band to keep the leaves in position, before adding the ribbon. As a general rule, any stem that is sturdy enough to stay upright will work. If you prefer flowers, other options are roses’ buds which maintain their flower colour when dried. Fluffy heads of small ornamental grasses or oat with red candles for contrast also look stunning. If you are into scent, try out lavender and rosemary stems. (Fig 3)
An old wreath makes a wonderful table centrepiece with candles in the middle. Any plate or cake stand would do to hold it all together. You can fill the gaps at the base with moss, pine cones, foliage, mandarins and crab apples. (Fig 4) Variegated holly with berries and pine cones are just another option. (Fig 5)
For an upright display, I have used a glass vase, filled with moss, pine cones and crab apples, followed by conifer foliage, bullrush sedge and corkscrew hazel stems, which have been sprayed with white paint for a quirky twist. Finish it with small LED lights for a little sparkle. See (Fig 6)
The ubiquitous pine cones at this time of the year can find their way into house plants too. Besides looking decorative all year round, they act as a barrier preventing weeds from growing in the soil. Pine cones have the additional advantage of being slow decaying so they will look great for a long time. Put in some real berries or small baubles for a colourful touch.
If your garden is too small to warrant you with so many natural beauties, ask friends and relatives for their help with plant material.