I often speak about the social element of community gardening being one of the main reasons people continue to come along – the lure of the garden may entice men and women in the first place but it’s the companionship that generally keeps them there.
The last couple of weeks have been a case in point where some of the women have met in the evening time and sharing their flower arranging skills. I was pleased to be invited along to these festive nights and shown how to make Christmas flower arrangements by Helen Leidig, who’s home is beautifully decorated with Christmas themed, natural floral art.
Before I share some of Helen’s tips, picture the scene…. A cozy log fire, cinnamon scent and soft music in the background, a glass of welcoming hot port and cheese and crackers to feed anyone feeling peckish. Tables and chairs are piled with leaves and seed heads, baubles and twigs, the majority of which have been cut fresh from gardens during the day. As we begin our work, concentration fills our faces as we try a leaf here, discard a twig there until our creations are complete. Then the ooh’s and aaa’s fill the room as we take a look at how others have used the same materials in completely different ways. There are certainly worse ways to spend a winter’s evening!
Although I make a Christmas door wreath every year (here’s a blog post showing you how to make your own door wreath if you’d like to have a go), the photos in this post show my first attempt at an oasis filled decoration.
Quick tip: if you’re planning to make a decoration using oasis, remember to soak it in water the night before you begin.
Two oasis blocks
A narrow tray to rest the oasis in
Glue gun if you have one
Seasonal greenery and seed heads from the garden. We used Viburnum, Box, Laurel, Bay, Spruce, Aucuba, Hydrangea, Allium, Agapanthus, Twisted Zazel, Dogwood and Euphorbia among others.
Bling! Baubles and ribbons, candles and bows
Wooden kebab sticks and or candle holders
2. Take a deep breath and begin!
The aim is to arrange the flowers and leaves so that they seem as if they’re growing naturally in a garden. Imagine where shrubs and flowers are mixed rather than planted in uniform rows. Start inserting leaves into the oasis at the ends and front of the tray, adding pine or spruce so that it spills out of the display. Use individual leaves and not clumps as they can be carefully arranged to positions you want them in.
3. Think texture, shape and pattern and try not to use more than four different types of leaves as you begin to build the base.
4. Then begin to fill in the top of the oasis. You need some height but avoid placing tall twigs or flowers in the middle. Either place them at both ends or on one side, leaving the middle for a candle if you’re using one.
5. Once you have the base leaves in place, continue to add groups of dried or fresh flowers and build up your display. You don’t have to pack every piece of the oasis. Any remaining gaps can be filled with moss to hide it.
6. Fir cones can be wired by discretely wrapping some florists wire between the cones then add them to the display.
7. If you have one, use a glue gun to attach the kebab sticks to the baubles. Remove the tree hangers that will be fixed to them, then place a blob of glue in the opening before popping a large stick into it. I found the baubles will rest directly onto the sticks without the glue gun (I don’t have one) as long as they’re angled correctly and a small piece of blue tack will work too.
8. If you’re adding candles to floral displays, wire them to a candle holder or tape the base of them to kebab sticks first before arranging on the oasis to prevent them falling over and potentially causing a fire!
9. Finally add ribbon or subtle lights to your display then stand back and relax. Strongly resist the urge to pull everything out and start again, remember, this might be your first display and they can only get better!
10. Keep an eye on the oasis and make sure it doesn’t dry out, watering it carefully as and when it needs it.
Creating my own displays, whether it’s a simple door wreath, a table centrepiece or now a window display has become a Christmas tradition in the Greenside Up household. More often than not I have to plan some time at this busy time of year to make them but once I begin, it slows me down, helps me unwind for a couple of hours and allows me a bit of creative indulgence.
Do you make your own decorations or will you have a go this year for the first time?