Whilst I heartily object to ‘the C word’ being used as I’m still enjoying the golden lights of autumn, when November comes around I’ve been sucked in good and proper – it’s all about Christmas from now on – I just can’t seem to shake the child in me, and the more I think about it, the more excited I get.
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without presents, and that means wrapping paper, so right now I’m out in my Joules tweed cap, choosing leaves of different shapes and sizes to make home-made wrapping that’s infinitely lovelier than anything you can buy. Just place the leaves artfully on any old wrapping or tissue paper you have lying around and spray liberally with festive gold or silver. The sprayed leaves can then be used for decorating another present, or scattered amongst fruit for extra sparkle.
Whilst I have something of a penchant for gold and silver spray (another throw-back to childhood), I like to get all my spraying over and done with in one session. Collect any seedheads you have in the garden and give them a spray for instant glamour indoors. My favourites are the fabulous firework-like heads of Allium schubertii, weird and wonderful nigella pods and of course, poppy seedheads. Alliums will hold their own solo, with a light shining behind them to cast dramatic shadows across the room, and the smaller seedheads are pretty with their stalks removed, dotted amongst fruit or en masse in large bowls. This is the time for harvesting nuts if you’re lucky enough to have any trees – not only delicious but decorative too. The ones that escape my nut-cracker wielding hand will end up sprayed and attached to wreaths and garlands. A wreath on your door is a welcoming sight and a morale booster every time you come home in the evening. Using coniferous greenery and holly is one way to go, but consider trying out silvery eucalyptus, punctuated with walnuts, or smart glossy camellia foliage with white roses for a really smart look. This year I’m planning a wreath of ramshackle, variegated ivies, with nuts and twigs, and the odd birds nest thrown in. Inside, I’ll be covering a nice thick length of rope with bay leaves to hang around the fireplace – I’m expecting the aroma to be transporting.
It’s not all leaves and seeds though – deep purple hyacinths and pale cream paperwhite narcissi planted back in September and October will hopefully be up and blooming for the Christmas period. It’s not too late to plant some prepared bulbs now for early new year gorgeousness. If you don’t want to wait, then there are the butterfly blooms of cyclamen for you to pick and display in little vases – I used to be a colour snob at Christmas, choosing white for everything, but as each year passes I get more bumptious (if that’s even a word), so in my cyclamen world I’ve been through white, and red and now it’s all about candy-floss pink with frilly edges…well, it’s only Christmas once a year.
Wishing you all a joyful colourful, frilly Christmas