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Christmas tree decorations: how to make wreaths and baubles from the garden

With the cost of living crisis and everyone watching every penny, you can still create a magical wonderland in your own home for less than £30. Gardens may be in their winter slumber, but seedheads, evergreen and berry-bearing plants, and other natural materials can be used to create beautiful decorations.

I recently showed on BBC Morning Live how to make a Christmas wreath. You can buy willow circles from most garden centers this time of year, or you can make your own circles with flexible stems and branches from silver birch, willow or dogwood. Simply wrap them around each other and tie them together using string or rubber bands. Make the circle as big or as small as you want.

Next, you may need to go garden exploring or wildlife hunting (with permission from the landowner) to find evergreen leaves from yew, leylandi, conifers, box, viburnum, holly, barberry, Japanese laurel, camellia, California lilac, Mexican is required. Orange Blossom, Rosemary, Elaeagnus, Celestial Bamboo and Fatsia, to name a few. These will form the base layer of your wreath. Cut to size and tie the first piece into the circle, then overlap with the next evergreen leaf each time. By using a mix of evergreens, you can create a dramatic effect. Maybe think about how and where your wreath is going to hang. If you like the idea of ​​a decorative bottom, consider adding some holly leaves mixed with holly leaves to the area.

If you’re feeling really adventurous you can make your own ‘twine’ by cutting a phormium leaf and then slicing thin strips from one end to the other. The fibers within the leaf have been used for centuries to make string and even rope. Tie the cut pieces of leaf together in a single strand. If you have or can find different colored phormiums, you can, in theory, make your own colored string.

If you feel you are not quite ready to make your string, the next layer is your decorative layer. Find seedheads that still look good in the garden (despite all the rain, frost, and snow). Thistles are a great addition to Christmas wreaths, they can be sprayed with eco-friendly silver or gold paint, or you can create your own finish using clear glue and edible glitter. Other seedheads to consider are the central cones of rudbeckia, fir cones, pampas grass or other ornamental grasses, such as miscanthus, sedum or hylotelephium, achillea and cardoon. Plus, berries add color to homemade wreaths.

Holly berries are an obvious choice, but consider the red berries on yew, the purple berries of callicarpa (if they stay on the stems) and either red, orange or yellow berries from cotoneaster and pyracantha. Either leave the berries on the stem or remove them gently and thread some black or green cotton thread through them to make a bunch of berries. These can be added to the wreath with green garden string, raffia or jute string.

Read more: How to protect garden plants from winter weather and snow – 8 important steps

Another decorative element that is often overlooked are dried fruits. They look like little jewels among the evergreen leaves. Oranges, satsumas, tangerines, mandarins, lemons, figs and apricots can be used. You can buy dried fruits from most hobby craft stores or you can make your own.

Pre-heat the oven to 140 degree Celsius. Thinly slice an orange into circles and place them on an ovenproof tray lined with parchment paper, leaving space between them. Alternatively, use the inner plastic bag found in cereal boxes, cut it in half and use it as the greaseproof equivalent.

Place your cut fruit in the oven with the door slightly open (about 5 cm) to allow air to circulate and bake/dehydrate for three to eight hours depending on the water content. Each fruit will be individual, so keep checking every hour and turning if necessary. Chopped, dried fruit also looks lovely hanging in front of a window, teamed with garden twine.

They act and look like stained glass, beaming orange and yellow hues into your living room. A few cinnamon sticks and sprigs or rosemary tied together with some garden twine for fragrance would be a treat. Just remember that adding dried fruit can attract birds to your wreath. If so I would recommend placing a bird feeder or some suet balls at some distance from your wreath to distract them.

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You can’t celebrate Christmas without twinkle lights and battery operated lights, waterproof lights are an easy way to add some sparkle. Weave them between the evergreen base layer and the decorative layer and hide the battery compartment in the back of the wreath. You can always consider using plug-in lights if you have outdoor power. Soft white lights will give a lovely warm glow to your wreath, while a mix of colored lights will create a fun display – and let’s face it, winter can be a gloomy period, so some color is always a welcome addition.

Finally, you need some ribbon to make a big bow for the bottom of your wreath and maybe some smaller bows to add to the decorative layer. When it comes to the final bow I like to go big and go for the ribbon type with the wire running along the edges, as you can mold it into any shape you like. I’ve also used ribbon with a Nordic pattern in the past, which sounds very Christmas-like to me.

In addition to wreaths, you can spray paint allium seedheads to create mini ‘sparklers’ for the Christmas tree. about 5 cm Cut off the seedheads along with the stem. Thread some twine through the stems, hang it somewhere outside or in the garage, and spray them in all directions. Leave to dry. Remove from twine, trim edge of stem and pierce with cotton thread tied in a loop. These would make beautiful hanging decorations.

I also like the idea of ​​trees around and parcels. Take anything from a matchbox to a shoebox and beyond. Wrap it with any spare pieces of wrapping paper, newspaper, plain brown paper or just white printing paper.

Tie a ribbon around it and either hang it on the tree or put it down depending on the size. You can also get the kids to paint and draw Christmas patterns on plain paper or make Christmas stamps using potatoes and some extra paint or sample paint pots that you might have lying around. It’s a lot of fun, but can get messy quickly, so always have a plan in mind before you begin. Those same potato stamps, or others if you really want to get creative, can be used on folded plain printing paper to make Christmas cards.

I like to tie small parcels and dried fruit onto a length of fairy lights with some ribbon wrapped around the wire for a decorative garland.

Lastly, Christmas trees aren’t necessarily cheap, so why not try making your own? Take a wooden broom handle and either cement it in a bucket or pot or fill it with stones to ensure that the wooden handle does not move. Next, take a piece of plain white printing paper and fold it under itself to make a cone. Join the edges together using sticky tape. Make as many as you want, but ideally enough to cover a wooden broom handle. If you can use different sizes of paper, you can start at the bottom with the larger cone and work your way up to the top with smaller cones. They should sit on top of each other, but odd drawing pins can be used backwards to hold the cone in place. This may take a few tries but persevere. Then just decorate with your dried fruit, ribbon, small parcels and some battery lights and you have an instant tree that can be dismantled in January and each item reused.

I’ve always loved receiving handmade gifts because it makes Christmas feel more personal, and with very little outlay you can fill your home with Christmas decorations that can either be used again next year, or next year. Can be added to the compost pile to help with the garden or simply put in your recycling bin.

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