Have a green Christmas no matter your space
Garlands can be a welcoming alternative If you are struggling to fit a traditional Christmas tree into your home due to lack of space, mischievous pets or young children.
I chose to break with tradition this year and adopt the latest trend for dried foliage in a natural wall display. My display contains a mixture of bracken, fern, fallen branches and ornamental grasses, such as the overwintering maiden or feather reed grass. It’s an alternative to the traditional evergreen display and will last longer than fresh foliage.
For those who want to try something similar with a traditional twist, add green accents to your dried display such as fresh seasonal flowers. If you can’t bring yourself to break with holiday convention, choose winter-themed foliage like mistletoe and holly mixed with branches from trees such as the cypress, fir or spruce.
What you need:
* A good pair of scissors, wire cutters or secateurs
* Gardening gloves, preferably in leather or suede to protect your hands from prickly plants and sharp stems
* Wire or cable ties for your structure. I used florist’s wire cut into small strips and a section of flexible chicken wire fencing
* Hooks. Self-adhesive or traditional picture hooks are best, but nails will work as well
* Foraged foliage. Remember to use common sense when foraging. Take scissors or a knife for a clean cut and carry a bag to pop your pickings into. Never take endangered plants or species you are unsure of. Do not trespass on private land or disturb a species' roots. Make sure you take no more than a third of the plant.
Creating your wall garland:
Now the fun can start! Pop on some festive tunes, roll up the sleeves on your Christmas sweater and let’s get creative.
Start by measuring the area where you have chosen to hang your display and cut the wire accordingly. I removed two pictures from the wall and used the existing hooks to affix my structure there. Factor in any risks. Dried foliage hung close to an open fire is a trouble waiting to happen.
Next, pop on your gloves. Begin by rolling your wire into a sausage-like garland shape. No chipolatas here though, thank you! Your structure should be a sturdy sausage, as thick as the width of your hand. Once rolled, fold or tuck the ends of the wire into the structure’s shape for a neat finish and use pre-cut strips of florist’s wire or cable ties to hold in place. Once you have the shape you are after, affix it to your chosen point like a mantelpiece, wall or stair rail.
Now, take your foliage and begin to weave it through the holes of the wire structure. Be sure to use twice the length of foliage as the size of your garland for a full looking display. Balance is key to your design. The shape and size of the garland should be as uniform as possible with each side creating a near mirror image of the other. The aim is to mimic nature though, not produce a carefully contrived art form. The odd rogue branch or asymmetrical item will only add to the charm of your display.
Work in a freestyle fashion. Begin by placing the larger pieces of your foliage in the wire structure first. If needed, use a strip of wire to hold the stems in place. For my display the bracken, branches and ferns were placed before the fine grasses and decorations that were added later. Build up the texture and layers until you have achieved the look you want.
Add to your display with some natural seasonal decorations, such as dried oranges, pine cones or fresh flowers.
If a wall display feels too overwhelming, take baby steps to a greener Christmas this year. Create a simple, but effective table setting with the ingredients from your herb garden. Small sprigs of rosemary or laurel tied to a cluster of candles creates a modern, clean look.
Alternatively, opt for a fresh take on table place settings by using gold or silver pens to handwrite guests’ names on waxy, fresh, green leaves.
Look to nature for inspiration. Small changes quickly add up!