As winter sets in we do confess that we retreat indoors but always make sure we bring some of the garden in with us.
There are so many plants and trees that can make the house look cosy and welcoming and it is very easy to incorporate branches, foliage and seedheads to make stunning Christmas displays. Even the simplest, barest branch or a handful of pinecones can be transformed into impressive arrangements and decorations. When the kids were younger Liz used to send hers out to forage in the garden and it was remarkable what they came back with (although not always with what was expected!).
So what do you need to collect to make amazing Christmas decorations?
You're looking for anything that catches your eye; evergreen foliage, twigs, branches, berries, seed heads, different colours and textures. In particular twigs and branches from silver birch, willow and hazel work really well as does foliage and branches from pine and fir trees, ivy, holly, mistletoe, eucalyptus, and the striking red stems of dogwood always cheers up a room.
Grab a basket or bag and collect seeds, chestnuts, cones and if you have a Clematis Vitalba (old man's beard) in your garden cut its seedheads. Stems of rosemary, bay and sage work well too and smell wonderfully.
What decorations can you do and make?
It's really easy to create eye-catching Christmas decorations using bare twigs or branches. Stand long twigs in a large glass or vase and decorate with lights and baubles for an enchanting display that looks amazing on a table or kitchen island. Place baskets or bowls of pine cones by the fire. They look festive and once they've dried out, they make fantastic firelighters.
Place small potted conifers or a bunch of conifer foliage in a pot in corners or on side tables to bring a touch of the winter forest into your home and drape green foliage along mantelpieces or weave through bannisters. The smell is gorgeous. Silver birch branches offer a beautiful alternative to the traditional Christmas tree and there’s the added bonus of no dropping needles.
A must in the Copping house in December is what is known as the ‘Winter Wonderland Centrepiece’ which is an arrangement of winter plants like poinsettias, Christmas cacti and cyclamens in a round basket that is placed on a side table and will last way into January.
December may be a chilly month in the garden but it can still be enjoyed inside.
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