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All things bright and beautiful. Free festive foliage decorations
It's just about time to deck the halls because the month of December is less than a week away. You will need to put 'decorations' near the top of the 'to do list'! It is, of course, very easy to purchase ready-made door wreaths, rings and swags but you might be missing out on some fun! Stepping out to gather festive foliage really gets you in the mood for Christmas and it need not take as long as you might think. There are dozens of plants that you can use for making Christmas decorations. In fact the gardens and hedgerows are teaming with twigs, leaves and berries that can all make Christmas bright and beautiful. You can harvest for free this festive season!
The quintessential outdoor Christmassy plant, apart from the Christmas tree, is holly.
Ilex is certainly a versatile evergreen, with its glossy green or variegated leaves and of course the female plant generally has luscious red berries. Because of its flexible stems, holly is ideal for use in festive door rings and it can also be threaded into a swag. Team this plant with ivy and you have the perfect partnership. You can also purchase a door ring template to help you form your creative decoration.
Ivy is, by nature, a twining, plant with long tendrils.
You can use ivy for threading into a Christmas wreath, festive swag or table decoration. Both holly and ivy can be harvested from the countryside for free. Just bear in mind that you will need to seek permission to take greenery from private land. Are there conservation issues about gathering foliage from hedgerows? No, very rarely, provided you are not uprooting the plants. Beware, however, of gathering unusual or rare plants from the wild. Take care not to take moss from the wild as the damp habitats in which it thrives are easily destroyed.
Next, there's mistletoe.
Mistletoe isn't an easy plant to gather as it generally hangs out near the tops of trees. Viscum album is a parasitic evergreen plant that forms a sphere-like cloud. It hangs around in host trees such as apple, poplar and lime. This semi-parasitic plant lives off the nutrients and water from its host. But you might need to take care if you are considering collecting it from the wild. Mistletoe will probably be too high to access without using a ladder and you'll need to gain permission from the land-owner. Taking a ladder on to common land might not be very practical so the best idea is to find a local supplier and buy direct.
There are plenty more opportunities for gathering free festive foliage
When you step out into the countryside on the countdown to Christmas there are plenty of opportunities for gathering festive foliage. Look for conifer foliage, fir cones, teasels, seed heads, twigs and even fungi. The twigs, seed heads and teasels look wonderful tied with red ribbon and many people like to spray them with a glittery gold or silver paint. The leathery leaves of evergreens such as Camellia and evergreen Euonymus lend themselves well to coming indoors and there are more delicate shapes worth considering too. Fennel heads, spent Sedum flowers and even hogweed seed heads have great structure. They can be arranged into a table decoration adorned with candles and your Christmas will come alive.
Giving living plants for health and happiness
It's the season of giving and most people like to believe that they have chosen their presents wisely. Most would prefer to avoid giving presents that will be tucked away in a cupboard, never to see the light of day again. Then there's the whole minefield of the re-gifted present, which could be embarrassing if you are the recipient of something you gave away in the past! There are many ways to avoid the trap of buying unwanted gifts, and perhaps the best is to give something perishable. If it can be eaten, drunk or grown it has a good chance of being used and not considered to be useless.
These make great presents (click on the above link to view them!). Not only are they lovely to look at, both before and during the flowering period, but they give a recipient a sense of purpose and achievement too. Most bulbs can be planted out into the garden once they have finished flowering. This is a gift that just keeps on giving, year after year. Popular flower bulbs include Crocus, Narcissi, Iris, Daffodil, Muscari and Hyacinth. They are so easy to grow. Buy an all-inclusive kit that includes compost and an attractive container so that the recipient doesn't have to find suitable equipment. They will be charmed!