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Your Life: Deck the halls; Gardening.


Giving your home a lovely festive feel doesn't have to mean spending a fortune in crowded shops - you can get it all from your garden.

Leaves, pine cones and berries can all make stunning Christmas decorations, and it really couldn't be easier - or cheaper.

So here's some inspiration to help you get creative...

Cranberry jewels

The glossy red berries of fresh cranberries make very pretty decorations, plus they're so easy you could give them to the kids to do.

You'll need: Cranberries, flexible wire and some raffia or green or gold ribbon.

Simply cut a piece of wire about 25cm long and thread the cranberries on to it, leaving about 2cm clear at each end.

Twist the two ends together to form a rough circle of red cranberries and snip off the excess wire.

Gently but firmly bend the wire into a simple heart shape and hang, using the coloured ribbon or raffia.

Yule log

Great for a table or windowsill.

You'll need: A log, glue, glitter, cotton wool, a candle, a drill, a sprig or two of holly and a few pine cones.

To do: Lay the log on its flattest side so it's stable. If you're good with a drill, make a hole about 1-2cm deep in one end of the upper surface.

The hole needs to be the width of the candle so the candle can be stood in it and kept firm. Glue in if necessary.

Stick clumps of cotton wool over the wood to represent snow and add short sprigs of holly and perhaps a few pine cones delicately sprinkled with glitter.

If the log is large, trail lengths of ivy around it. Take care with lighted candles and never leave them unattended.

A seasonal swag

Shelf edges, book cases and sideboards all look better decorated with a seasonal swag.

You'll need: Flexible but strong wire, garden twine and foliage such as conifer clippings, holly, skimmia with berries, ivies and red or gold ribbon.

To do: Measure the length of wire needed to create a loose swag and add an extra 100cm, then double the figure and cut the wire to length.

Fold the wire in the middle so that you have a double-strand.

Cut lots of short lengths of suitable foliage from the garden, each about 10cm long.

Leaving a gap of about 15cm of wire, then start wiring in the foliage cuttings, using the wire to twizzle around the stem of each piece of foliage. For a neater effect, keep the sprigs all facing in the same direction.

Every now and then check how the length of the swag will measure up on the shelf edge, continue wiring in foliage until it's long enough, then snip off all but about 15cm of the excess wire. If it looks gappy, wire in extra bits of foliage or add a few large ribbon bows or baubles.

Secure by winding the twine around the foliage and wire.

Door wreath

Simple wire, hazel or oasis rings are available from garden centres, florists or craft stores.

You'll need: Flexible but strong wire, plenty of evergreen foliage, some wide ribbon and some narrow ribbon. Added extras such as pine cones, cinnamon sticks, walnuts or sweet chestnuts look great, too.

To do: Cut the foliage into 15cm lengths - each piece needs a rigid stem at one end. Make a hanging loop from wire and attach this firmly, water the oasis well and tuck the foliage into place, driving the stem firmly into the oasis at an angle so that the foliage lies close to the ring.

Continue around the entire ring, making sure you cover the sides and that there are no ugly gaps when the wreath is viewed from any angle. Using strong wire, make several wire U shapes, each about 3cm long. These can be used to attach a few ribbon bows, or other extras such as small bundles of cinnamon sticks, again tied with red ribbon to make them look prettier.

Cut lengths of the wire a few inches long and drive one end into the soft area at the base of a walnut's shell, then drive the other end into the oasis. You can also wire in chestnuts and Christmas baubles.

Fruity feast table decoration

Even the tiniest Christmas table should have space for a homemade decoration or two.

You'll need: Asmall oasis cylinder and plastic saucer base that comes with it, a selection of foliage, walnuts, cinnamon sticks, ribbon, clementines, crab apples or small apples.

To do: Water the oasis well then add sprigs of foliage so it looks like a foliage-covered mound. Tie a red or gold ribbon around the middle of the mound, making a large, luxurious-looking bow on one side.

Add in wired fruits - some clementines, apples, chestnuts and walnuts and a few small bundles of cinnamon sticks (see door wreath for how to wire).

Don't forget...

. . . to keep watering your Christmas tree. Real Christmas trees drink a huge amount and the warmer the room, the more they need, so you must keep the reservoir topped up every day or two.

When you bring the tree in and re-cut that stump it allows the tree to continue drinking, despite its rootless state. The more water it gets, the fewer needles it'll drop.


WELCOMING: Wreath and swag; SEASONAL SELECTION: Pine cones, berries, foliage and flowers; CHARM: Fruity table decoration
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 20, 2008
Previous Article:Your Life: Drinks of the week.
Next Article:Your Life: OFFER OF THE WEEK; Gardening.

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