Make a Christmas wreath from the garden
This is a really quick and simple recipe – just a ring of wet foam covered in foliage that's easily found in most gardens, and combined with flowers.
Usually a few garden roses are still in evidence at this time of year, but even if the frost and snow has devastated your garden all the other components will still be available and there are plenty of alternatives you could try - big plates of Viburnum tinus flowers, or even the cheerful red berries of Skimmia japonica subsp. reevesiana would look just as lovely. Or you can always cheat a little and add a few roses bought from the florist for that festive touch.
You will need:
- a 30cm (12”) foam ring
- florist's bind wire or garden twine
- conifer - I used lime green foliage (for once the dreaded Leylandii cypress is perfect – snip some from your hedge) and a grey, such as the dwarf Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Ellwoodii'. But use whatever you have available – you could even snip a few branches from the bottom of your Christmas tree!
- snippets of holly – the variegated types (such as Ilex x altaclerensis 'Golden King') look pretty
- purple Heuchera leaves such as 'Plum Pudding' if you have them: if not, ivy leaves are just as good
- Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Tom Thumb' or any similar evergreen with small-ish foliage
- handful of fir cones
- florist's stub wires (available from DIY stores and garden centres)
- roses - I have used multi-petalled Rosa 'Grand Prix' but garden roses of any colour or form would look enchanting.
- Fill a sink with water. Place the ring on top, foam side down. Soak until the foam turns dark green, which will take about a minute.
- Secure a loop of bind wire or garden twine through the ring. Twist the wire to secure.
- Cut short snippets of conifer and insert into the foam at regular intervals. Angle the sprigs to follow the shape of the wreath.
- Insert the Heuchera or ivy leaves at different angles, still following the wreath’s outline. Ensure there is equal coverage over all parts of the foam.
- Repeat with the holly and Pittosporum to fill any gaps.
- Create 'storks' for the fir cones by wrapping a long florist's stub wire round the needles (as close as you can to the base), bringing the two wires together and twisting one around the other.
- Cut the rose stems short and tuck them firmly between the leaves at regular intervals.
Don't forget to spray the wreath regularly with water to keep it looking at its best. You will need to replace the roses with fresh flowers after about a week, but the base of garden foliage should last well.
Judith Blacklock has written nine books on designing with flowers and teaches floristry all around the world. She has also arranged the flowers at Kensington Palace on a regular basis. She runs her own floristry school in Knightsbridge, London, teaching flower arranging and floristry.