hand-made Christmas decorations, honesty, natural Christmas decorations, photo shoot, The Simple Things
Much as I have loved the mild weather we have had so far this autumn and winter, it hasn’t felt particularly seasonal. We have had only two real frosts up to now and I have had to keep reminding myself that it’s December and Christmas is not far away at all. I’m torn really, I’m not a lover of the cold, but I am a sucker for a Christmas that looks like the images on the cards – all snow-covered houses, frosty trees and smiley snowmen. I know the reality is somewhat different, our transport system grinds to a halt and our hospitals fill with people who have fallen over but two of the loveliest Christmases we’ve had were recent white Christmases. We were snowed in at my parents for one of them. We played scrabble, we read, made an enormous snowman and warmed ourselves in front of the fire. The other time we were at home. The countryside around us was under several inches of snow and looked like wintery perfection. We saw people skiing in the Brecon Beacons, watched birds skate on the frozen canal and followed animal tracks in the snow. Of course, once it’s no longer pristine white and turns to slush it loses its appeal, even for me. But, for just a few days everything looks magically different. And I think that’s why I love it so much, a touch of frost and a sprinkling of snow transforms the dull and drab landscape of our typical winters.
With little sign of a white Christmas this year I have been thinking of other ways to create that festive spirit. Upstairs, in my spare room, I have boxes of goodies, reminders of the summer that has gone. Dried flowers, seed heads and grasses are joined by bits and pieces I have foraged over the autumn. I have always loved using natural decorations, particularly at Christmas. I used to just pick up cones and wind-fall branches when I was out on walks but over the last couple of years I have started to grow plants specifically for drying and decorating. The collection has grown bigger each year, so much so I have often ended up wondering what to do with it all.
Last year I was asked to do some flower arrangements for a dinner at Kate Humble’s rural skills farm. Problem was it was February and very much winter. Lets just say I was so very glad I hadn’t composted my honesty seed heads, grasses and teasels, as I had been planning to do the previous week. Jam jars of dried posies were delivered to them which were dotted about the tables, the honesty sparkling in the candle light.
This year my stocks of dried material were even bigger. I couldn’t get into the shed at one point I had so many bundles of drying plant material dangling from the roof. And the gas man looked more than a little puzzled by the collection of plants hanging in the airing cupboard. Using dried material is a really useful way to decorate for Christmas in advance. Much as I would love swags of evergreens around the house throughout December, shrivelled, dry leaves wouldn’t be so appealing by Christmas. So I use my dried material throughout November and December and then add in the fresh pickings in the days leading up to Christmas Day.
If you would like to see some more of my ideas for natural Christmas decorations, both dried and fresh, you might like to take a look at this month’s The Simple Things magazine which is out now. There were ideas in last month’s issue too which is still available to buy online. So the feature could be ready to be published in time the photographs were taken at the start of October. Wellyman LOVES Christmas, so I was surprised on the day of the shoot at how restrained he was. He didn’t greet the editor and photographer in a reindeer onesie with Wham’s Last Christmas blaring out, and instead settled for making Christmas tree-shaped biscuits, with a quick play of some carols on the piano. It was great fun making all of the decorations and fascinating to see the process of putting together a magazine feature. If you get the chance to see the outcome I hope you like it.
For more information about The Simple Things. And here’s a peek inside this month’s issue.
There are also a few ideas over on Wellyman’s own blog Pianolearner.
Really love what you have done….I too cannot go round the garden without picking something up and then wondering ‘what can I make with this’….my garden is full of woven stems I can’t bear to throw away..
Thank you Sue.I like the idea that the natural decorations can be kept or composted when you’re finished with them. I hate seeing all the plastic associated with Christmas.
Me too,I encourage my granddaughters to make as much as they can, they love it .
Lovely decorations. The Simple Things is a beautiful magazine, glad to see your inspiration in there.
Thank you CJ. It is a gorgeous magazine, so many varied topics. I was so pleased to be asked to be in it.
I love your wreath with the dried flowers, it would be nice anytime not just for Christmas. I love swags of bay around the house especially around the huge fireplace in the kitchen, luckily there is lots of bay around the garden so I can pick as much as I want. Thanks for the link to the magazine.
Thanks Christina. I have a few wreaths dotted about the house which do stay up all year round. If it will ever stop raining I’m going to go out and pick my fresh decorations some time this week.
A very seasonal post. I’d rather not have any snow at all here as it causes chaos and soon turns grey, icy then slushy.
You conjure up a rather vivid image of Wellyman!
Thanks for the interesting link to The Simple Things. xx
Thanks Flighty. I know that is the downside to wintery weather. At least with a cold spell you sometimes get to see the sun, I’m beginning to forget what it looks like. 😉
I’m quite happy for the weather to stay mild, even over Christmas. I’m not a lover of cold weather at all. I love that Brambly Hedge inspired wreath, the teasels really set it off.
Thanks Jo. It’s mild and VERY wet here. Sounded like someone had turned on one of those waterfall showers last night. I suppose it’s making up for the dry November. Starting to forget what the sun looks like though. 😦
Laura Bloomsbury said:
beautiful craft – had to re-tweet. Brambly hedge wreath makes me long for the countryside I wonder what I could conjure for city lights wreath?!
Aw! Thank you Laura. I bet there is quite a lot you could forage for in the city. Teasels seem to pop up everywhere and I bet you have loads of gorgeous evergreens and berries dotted about. 🙂
Laura Bloomsbury said:
true but can’t quite tease them into such decorative wreaths as yours
love the fruity one.
Thank you! 🙂
I’ve been very restrained this year in collecting things as I (correctly) thought I wouldn’t have the time to make anything. Having seen the copious and very beautiful crab apples at college – and now your lovely pics – I’m itching to make something! (I might have to quickly wire a foraged wreath… ) Everything was properly early-morning-frosted when I got to college this week – this is the kind of winter weather I love, much better than sliding on snow! Plus I can still get out into the garden for an hour or two without freezing! (How wonderful to have a “spare room” to keep stuff in; I have to manage with the top of my kitchen cabinets!)
There’s still plenty of time Caro. I’ll probably only start making my fresh decorations this week, that way they’ll look really fresh for Christmas. Hope you get a chance to make something. 🙂 You seem to have had more frost over there so far. We’ve only had 2. Much as I love where we live it is rather wet and with the rain comes looming grey skies.
The spare room is really useful, although we’ve had a few guests recently so I’ve had to keep moving everything into the study and back. OH works from home a lot too so the boxes and dried goodies were starting to get in the way. I’m glad I haven’t been tempted to compost them though.
There does come a time when I ask myself why I’m keeping boxes of hoarded materials but I’ve learned that as soon as I chuck them, I’ll need them so try to exercise restraint when I’m having a clear out! Stuff I’ll never dispose of are my beach finds – driftwood, shells, sea washed glass – and pressed leaves. There will always be a need for those!
Danielle G said:
I’m on the other side of the coin – I prefer cooler weather but here is southern Australia, Christmas usually sees us in hot weather sweating (literally) over a traditional hot lunch, spraying fake snow on our windows to decorate the house and then heading to the beach afterward Christmas lunch.
To be honest (and think me strange) I’d prefer the snow thanks!
:0 I don’t think you’re strange. It would seem odd to me to have Christmas somewhere where it was summer. I love the idea of the fake snow and traditional lunch despite baking temperatures. It looks like we’re in for a wet and mild Christmas this year though. Snow does cause chaos and heating costs are so expensive now that I shouldn’t really complain about it being so mild we don’t need to light the fire at the moment.
Wow, beautiful wreath, I am getting more and more interested in using dried things for natural Christmas decorations, given the crispy bay experiences of last year. So many ideas… Is it very wrong of me to be thinking about hacking a tree for whippy growth to make a wreath?! it is a tree that has to be moved anyway… Is that lichen in the top image? Must get well enough to go forage…
Thank you Janet. That doesn’t sound wrong to me at all…if the tree is going anyway it sounds like the perfect use for it. Yes it’s lichen I collected it when we did a walk up in Scotland in October. It was foraged from the woodland floor (I wouldn’t actually take it off plants). There had been a storm the previous night so there was a lot of windfall. Are you not feeling great? It’s a hard time of year with the shorter days and less sunlight. I’m writing this whilst sat in front of my SAD lamp. The great thing about foraging is you often don’t have to go very far to find goodies you can use, even a rootle around the garden can be enough. Hope you feel better soon. x
But I’m sure Wellyman would have looked lovely in a reindeer onesie ;-))) – love the crab apple one, now I know what to do with some of those crab apples that the birds are turning their noses up at.
:0 Thank you. They look lovely wired into wreaths too or just gathered together in a bowl or jam jar.
All my Christmas decorations too, come from the garden, I think another week and I will be out in the garden cutting ivy, holly, conifer,laurel, bay, and all decorated with the lovely red berries on the purple berberis. I’ll have to cut those soon, before the blackbirds eat them all!
Love your wreath, it would look wonderful at any time of year.
I’m probably going to go out this week and start to pick the fresh decorations. I much prefer the natural to tinsel and it’s much kinder to the planet. ;)Thank you. I have a few wreaths around the house which tend to stay up all year.
My thoughts on snow have been much more positive since I have not been working! There is indeed such a beauty in fresh snow and coatings of frost, but then can come the downsides. Thanks you for sharing some of your inspiration and mentioning the magazine ps I was amused by the idea of Wellyman in his onesie and enjoyed the link to his blog!
Hi Cathy, yes it does make a difference if you don’t have to get to work or travel anywhere. I just like how it breaks up the monotony of winter which, certainly here in Wales, tends to be grey and wet. I do know that it causes so many problems though. I’m often reluctant to say I like snow in case I get an unfavourable response. 😉
A onesie & Wellyman I don’t think so!. Love the aritcles in Simple Things Magazine it just goes to show how easy it is to put decorations together without breaking the bank.
A little bit of wire and twine is all you really need and you can even recycle jam jars and tin cans for containers. So you don’t need to spend much at all and it can all be composted after Christmas.
Snow is fine if you don;t have to be somewhere that involves driving. My Christmas card this year is a photo I took last January
Gardens at Waters East said:
I really like your opening photo on this posting. Very nice. Reminds me of the rivers around my garden here on the shores of Lake Michigan. JC
Love the seasonal decorations WW especially the crab apple and birch wreath. I eventually managed to track down a copy of last month’s ‘Simple Things’ and enjoyed your article.