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Green with Ivy

Do tinsel and baubles leave you cold? If a natural approach is more your style, it’s easily achievable. Renowned local florist Jamie Grant explains how to bring the outside in this festive season.

WHICH FOLIAGE WORKS BEST?

Evergreens are your best bet for foliage that will stay fresh right through to New Year. They are everywhere at this time of year – in shops, hedgerows and even in the back garden. Look for glossy holly and privet, long fronds of ivy and slim branches or bunches of twigs. You can even make use of those cut-offs from the bottom of your Christmas tree.

WHERE CAN I PUT IT?

Anywhere you want. Rafters, columns and bannisters are particularly useful for wrapping greenery around. A garland across the mantelpiece is a traditional favourite, but you can also make smaller versions for shelves, doorways and the tops of mirrors. Also, candles and foliage are natural partners. Combine a simple white church candle with aromatics like rosemary or pine and you’ll create a wonderful fragrance as the foliage warms up. Simply place your candle into a glass or jar and slip small stems or sprigs of greenery down the sides to hide the base.

DECORATING THE TABLE

Greenery can be used all over your Christmas table in place of a single, central arrangement. Weave a long garland down the middle of a long table, or create a ring towards the centre of a circular table. Use ivy to make napkin rings or place a sprig of greenery and berries at each place setting. You’ll find plenty of inspiration for this kind of thing on Pinterest. And don’t forget to keep a nice piece of holly ready to top your Christmas pudding.

FINISHING TOUCHES

Set your presents apart from the crowd by adding a little greenery to your wrapping. It’s cheap, environmentally friendly and much more personal than expensive, printed paper and synthetic ribbon. All you’ll need is brown packing paper (available from your local Post Office), gardening twine and some festive sprigs to tuck under your gift tag.

TOOLS OF THE TRADE

There are certain things florists can’t be without at this time of year:
• A pair of sharp secateurs for foraging, and then trimming and taming those branches into shape.
• Some fine wire and good-quality, green floristry tape for attaching decorative flourishes to your greenery and holding things in place (a hot glue gun is also useful here, if you have one!).
• Plenty of floristry foam (also known as oasis). If you’re planning on making any formal arrangements, this will make life much easier.
• Mulled wine, a mince pie and carols on the radio!

Jamie Grant is the founder of Gardenia of London. Visit www.gardeniaoflondon.co.uk or pop into their shops to get even more inspiration for decorating your home this Christmas.

Mention this article and get £5 off your tree. To order your tree in advance, call 020 8944 0942 – free, local home delivery is available but get in quickly to reserve your slot.

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