I had planned to do quite a few posts in the lead up to Christmas, but then I got struck down by the dreaded Christmas lurgi and in an effort to recover in time for the big day, spent some time in bed. Luckily it worked and I was recovered sufficiently to stuff my face with heaps of food and wine.
We also managed to have a Christmas party and inspired by my wreath making I made some garlands; one for the table, one for the stair bannister and one to conceal the not quite finished doorway to the study.
I started by getting up nice and early and heading over to New Covent Garden flower market to pick up ingredients, which included wax flower, seeded and baby blue eucalyptus, soft ruscus and a few other bits which I will endeavour to find the names of plus some rosemary from our garden to add extra fragrance.
I didn’t want to make the garlands as soon as I got home so popped them in buckets of water till I was ready. I then laid up all my ingredients and supplies – florists tape, stub wire and florists scissors and got started. To provide a base for the garland I tapped lengths of soft ruscus together. The best way to do this is to tape on the bare part of the stalk, close to a leaf bud, to conceal the tape.
I made up one long garland for the table (far right), one for the stairs (far left) and I made the one for the door up out of three parts – one for the top of the door and one for either side (centre). With the ones for the table and the top of the door, I started from the centre and worked out to the ends, as these look better with a centre point. However with the others I worked from one end to the other.
The soft ruscus would have been fine on its own (in fact we did something similar for our wedding) however I wanted the garlands to be quite dense, so I added additional foliage to the soft ruscus. I found the best way to do this was to collect together 3-5 sprigs of different foliage of various lengths, textures and colours (almost like an oversized buttonhole). I then wrapped the wire around it a few times, leaving about 10cm free, and trimmed the bare ends of the foliage (leaving about a cm).
Once I had amassed various sprigs of foliage I started to wire them on to the soft ruscus garlands. As with the tape, I found it was best to do this near a bud of leaves as it concealed the wire. To get the desired density, I wired the sprigs on approximately every 10cm, in the same direction as the soft ruscus, however for a denser garland you could do it at smaller intervals. I found the useful thing about using wire rather than tape was that it gave me the opportunity to manipulate the foliage slightly and twist it round to face the best way.
As I mentioned before I wanted the table garland to have definite centre, so thinned it out slightly towards the ends. This is where using a foliage base rather than a rope came in very useful. I also tried to make some parts a bit more wild than others to give a good contrast in textures.
To fix the garland to the door frame and stair bannister I used a few drawing pins, which were really easy to conceal in the foliage. The table garland was much simpler and I just laid it on the table; arranged around some candles and cut glass decanters with longer sprigs of matching foliage.
All in all it took about 2 and a half hours to do all of the garlands, which I though was pretty good. However I am not sure how Christmassy they were! Don’t get me wrong I really like them, but if I was to do them again I would probably include some fir branches and perhaps cinnamon and dried orange, as they felt a bit more winter wedding than Christmas! What do you think?