A wonderfully wild Yuletide

Nikki Bawn of Boggle Lane Foods explains the delight of making your own Christmas garland.
Foraging for your festive finds is immensely joyous and reconnects us with Christmases past. From decorative garlands to wild beverages and gifts, mother nature provides inspiration and the ingredients that will help make your celebrations memorably magical.

Despite the chill in the air and leaden skies, there are wonderful plants and edibles to lift your spirits and bring cheer. Kicking the last fire-coloured leaves while spotting crimson berries on a wander in the Wolds is extra special in the run up to Yuletide.

There’s nothing like a hand-picked, home-made gift to make loved ones feel spoiled and I love the ritual of collecting and preparing spices, herbs and foliage. They bring fragrance and warmth on a dreary day. A weighty pan of spiced chutney blipping away on the stove while I fashion garlands and pine cone table centrepieces is my idea of heaven!

Ancient Yuletide practices focused on creating light and abundance in the dark depths of winter. Bringing sacred plants like holly and mistletoe into the house and lighting lots of candles all harks back to these pagan Yuletide habits. Doing these things still holds mystical and magical appeal for modern day Christmas preparations.

Slow gin, fire cider, herb infused oils, chutneys and preserves, hawberry ketchup and rosehip syrup are just a few of the many things that can bring seasonal, artisan flair to your gift giving, and I’d recommend that everyone has a go at making at least one on the long list. But, if cooking isn’t your thing why not tap into your inner artist and deck the halls with your very own hand crafted door wreath, garland, or table decoration?

Beautifully packaged, ribbon wrapped mass produced luxury is always available in shops and online – but I promise, if you use the natural gifts from mother nature for your seasonal creations, you’ll have a Christmas that is as unique and as special as you are!

You will need:
For each 6 feet of garland, you’ll need around 20 branches of freshly cut evergreens e.g. holly, ivy, conifer, pine, fir

For extra decoration choose things like pine cones, branches with hawberries, sloes (blackthorn), rosehips, juniper berries and wide ribbon

To assemble the garland: Florist’s wire, tie wraps, measuring tape and strong scissors or shears

Gardening gloves are advisable if you are using foliage with prickles or thorns and use newspaper or paper sheets to protect surfaces as sap and berry juice can make a mess!

Once you have decided on the length of your garland, cut the wire into 6-inch pieces. Choose some of the straightest, woody branches and begin to mould them into lengths, then wrap wire around at intervals along the length to hold things in place.

To extend the length, place more branches towards the end of the first bundle and wrap wire around to hold it together.

Check the bundles are all securely attached together. You can always use the wire to interweave the branches together if they are being stubborn.

Pick out some of your decorative items and use wire or tie wraps to secure them in place along the length of your garland.Cover unsightly wire/tie wraps with ribbon.

Add extra sparkle with snow or glitter spray, tinsel, candy canes etc. You can also create round wreaths for doors and tables using the same method but instead, simply bend your branches into a circular shape.

Then stand back and admire your handiwork!

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