Festive inspiration from Sue Arran Flowers

Local florist Sue Arran offers some useful advice about decorating our homes for the Christmas period.

When you are thinking about decorating for Christmas using natural materials, the best place to start is in your garden (or a friend’s!): there are lots of different foliages and other bits and pieces you can use to great effect without costing a lot. For the arrangements in these pictures, all the greenery has come from the garden and I’ve used lichen-covered twigs and pine cones kindly given to me by a friend. The next thing is to look around your home for any vases, candle holders or other containers you can put to good use in styling your arrangements.

For the mantlepiece (main picture), I’ve used pine cones, together with lichen covered twigs and twig wreaths made out of clippings from a shrub I was pruning. For twig wreaths, you need to make these when the material is still fresh and pliable otherwise it will break. I simply started with one long piece to make a circle, holding it at the join and adding other pieces, twisting them round each other. When you get a few together, the twigs should hold so you can turn the circle and add more material as you go round. To finish the look I’ve added some baubles, gold sprayed walnuts, birch bark stars and tealights. I have some small glass custard cups, but you could use any glasses which will hold a tealight safely, adding to the sparkle.

A wreath is a real feature for your front door. This one has been made on a moss base, but you can get oasis foam wreaths from Warmerdam in Crews Hill, or online. I’ve included lots of different foliage from the garden, including cypress, viburnum and variegated holly, decorated with pine cones for a natural look.

Sue Arran Xmas door wreath

As an alternative to the traditional wreath, you can gather a variety of foliage in a sheaf for a different look. I’ve used the same materials as the wreath, plus some ivy, finished with gold ribbon.

Sue Arran Xmas door sheaf

Carrying on the foliage theme inside, I’ve created a table decoration in a pretty silver bowl, adding some baubles to warm up the colours, sparkle in the form of sprayed silver teasels, plus dried scabious seed heads and some pheasant feathers as an added texture.

Sue Arran Xmas table decoration

A decorated version of the twig wreaths makes for a Nordic inspired look, with some skeleton leaves, painted twigs and birch bark stars.

Sue Arran Xmas twisted birch wreath

Ribbon wall hangings are now a popular feature at weddings and I’ve adapted the look for a rustic style decoration. The ribbons are glued to the twig at the top and I’ve added star anise and some wooden stars on some of the ribbons, plus some wool strands for softness.

Sue Arran Xmas ribbon decoration

Creating a focal point by grouping together different heights and styles of container is an easy way to decorate. I’ve gathered together some mercury tealight holders and bud vases, using twigs wrapped with wool and sprayed foliage, plus white birch twigs, silver sprayed poppy seed heads and echinops (globe thistles). The colour range complements the antique style metal tray.

Sue Arran Xmas focal group

I work with another local florist, Liz Teggin of Flowers from the Barn, and together we run workshops at Ferny Hill Farm. Our Christmas wreath workshops are very popular, this is a one-day course where you can learn to make a door wreath from scratch on a mossed base. There are some spaces left, this year the dates are 5th and 7th December; the cost is £95 per person, including all your materials and tuition, a lovely lunch with a glass of fizz and refreshments throughout the day. Please contact me via email (sue@suearranflowers.com) or phone (07890 267221) if you would like to join us.

Pictures by Colin Allen Photography.

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