In the long history of Christmas, the past few decades will go down as a very plastic, very glittery blip in a tradition otherwise characterised by elements taken from nature.
Where we today see plastic baubles, electric lights and artificial trees, previous generations used real evergreens, candles and glass decorations and berries.
But collectives of florists and gardeners around the world have been pushing for more sustainable flower production as part of the so-called Slow Flowers movement – and this also applies to decorations around Christmas.
After all, don’t all the most beautiful ornaments come from nature?
A few twigs and pine cones here, some local berries and flowers there: Especially if you’re into decorating your own Christmas wreaths, you may find your own garden or balcony is full of things you can use.
Florist Katharina Funk, a Germany-based member of the Slow Flowers movement, says she uses willow twigs, dogwood and wild grapevine to create the basic circle shape of her wreaths.
She bends, twists and interlaces the thin branches and stems into a circle and wraps them with floral wire. Straw works just as well if you have some already.
You can then fill out the wreaths with the greenery of the plants or trees you took the twigs from or some yew, holly and lavender. Seed heads of poppy, fennel and scabiosa work too, as do fruits like rose hips, rowan berries and ornamental apples.
The amateur florist also works with dried blossoms – and bits of old bouquets. Strawflowers, hydrangeas and lilacs can be dried out and used. You can then tie miniature bouquets of small flowers to the wreath with a bit of wire.
Funk says you’ll probably get better results if you take your time and examine the wreath from all sides – especially if you want to leave it on the table.
And if you don’t like it?
“Be courageous and open it all up again,” says Funk.It can be helpful to first loosely arrange the material around the wreath according to colour.
“That way you get a pretty good feel for what goes together.”Funk says she likes to put her Christmas wreaths on a plate and fill the centre with nuts. The more fragile ones get hung on the door or wall with dark red ribbon. – dpa