Make the most of natural treasures

The garden is full of seasonal treats at Christmas. Lingering berries and evergreen leaves, drying seedheads, winter blooms and bare tree stems dripping with lichen are all treasures to be cherished. With a little imagination you can transform them into festive decorations for your home or patio. All you need to do is explore your garden for inspiration.

To make the simple projects in our December issue you’ll need just a few extra supplies. Florists’ tape and oasis, craft wire, nylon filament (fishing line) and glue are useful materials to have to hand. 

If you can’t lay your hands on all the natural materials you need, look further afield. You can find pine cones in parks and gardens, but check that you’re allowed to take them away. Fields and hedgerows will yield wild rosehips, rowan and hawthorn berries. To make the most of these, harvest them early before the birds devour them, and store in a cool garage, shed or your fridge, until you're ready to use them.

Give a gift that keeps on growing

Plants can make long-lasting presents that will keep on giving pleasure for months and years to come. They’re especially welcome gifts at Christmas as they help to brighten up dark winter days. But our homes can be tricky places for plants to thrive, especially at this time of year with central heating and low light levels. Plant labels can also be a bit vague as to how to look after plants, so for novice growers in particular it can be useful to include some extra growing tips along with your gift to help the recipient look after the plant.

By providing the most suitable growing conditions – optimum temperatures, the right humidity levels and general care – these plants will go on filling a room with colour and interest well into spring. Avoid draughts and hot spots near radiators or fires. Improve humidity levels by placing pots on top of gravel-filled saucers topped up with water – make sure the pot isn’t submerged in the water as the roots will rot.

If you’re giving a plant as a present this Christmas or you’re lucky enough to receive one yourself, here’s our guide to the best plants to gift, how to prolong their flowering period and what to do with them once they’ve finished their display.