Harvest your hard work

Use the fruits of your labour in the garden to make original Christmas decorations, and save money. Pattie Barron gets 10 inspiring ideas from gardener Sarah Raven
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1. Make a few flowers go a long way. Use an oasis ring, soaking it first, and cover with flowers and foliage. Rather than leaving it on the table, lift up the flower-studded ring and rest it on the shoulders of a vase, which will need to be a bit narrower. Add a fat candle in a contrasting colour, wide enough to fit tightly in the neck of the vase, and secure with waterproof glue tack to hold it firmly. To keep the blooms fresh, remove the ring at night and store it somewhere cool.

2. Allium seedheads, sprayed silver, look like giant sparklers. Either hang them on the tree with ribbon, or throw them at the tree and they will cling. Agapanthus seedheads make a good alternative. When spraying, have adequate ventilation, gloves and lots of newspaper. Place your garden harvestings on the newspaper and spray with paint, leaving them to dry overnight.

3. Submerge tropical flowers in water for an exotic table display. Choose blooms with a waxy or leathery texture to their petals such as gloriosa lilies, tuberose and orchids. Leave at least 2in to each stem and bind a 3ft length of beaded wire around the flower stem at intervals so it does not float. Fill the vase with water and feed the flowers and wire into it. If the vase is tall and narrow, you may be able to balance a candle on the top but secure it with a circle of waterproof glue tack.

4. Turn jam jars into fragrant woodland flower holders by encasing them in rosemary stems. For each jar, cut 15 12in stems of rosemary in half. Wrap each jar in two circular bands of wide, double-sided sticky tape, spaced 2in apart. Stick the stems of rosemary on to the tape, adding them bit by bit, all the way around. Wrap a piece of organza ribbon around the glass to stop any stems from dropping off the sides. Fill with paper whites, hellebore stems and silver birch twigs, pushed into a pin holder.

Woodland flower holder
Turn rosemary stems and jam jars into attractive woodland flower holders
5. Create a magical flower arrangement by floating blooms and nightlights in a shallow bowl. Chrysanthemum Fly Away produces wonderful spidery heads. For a large bowl, 1ft wide and 6in deep, you will need five to seven flower stems and five nightlights, to scatter in between. Set the bowl in position and fill to the brim with water. Use glass flower floats for both blooms and candles to keep the petals from rotting and the lights from burning them.

6. Use a large fruit bowl to create a low, wide display of seasonal blooms and berries. To hold them in place, make a grid of tree prunings that lies on the bowl, overlapping by about 1in. Cut 10 straight hazel, cornus or willow branches, the thickness of your little finger. Lay them in a noughts-and-crosses structure and, using string, secure them in place with reef knots tied in the same direction, tying the four corners first.

7. Garden hydrangeas make a generous wreath for a table centrepiece. Cut 20 to 30 heads, looking for a good bud just below where you snip, so you prune at the same time. Float them in the bath overnight to prolong their life. Cover a 18in to 19in double-ring wire frame, with bridges between the rings, with a generous amount of silver birch twigs, wiring them on. Cut the hydrangea stems to about 8in and attach the heads, two abreast, around the wreath, pushing them through the twigs to secure. On the table, fill the centre with candles.

Chinese lanterns
Chinese lanterns with spindle berries make a sizzling table runner
8. Kumquats, the seasonal citrus, make the prettiest hanging pomanders and are daintier than oranges. Simply stud them with cloves and wrap a length of beaded wire around each one, twisting the top in order to secure the fruit, so you can hang them from the tree.

9. Hot pink spindle berries and orange Chinese lanterns make a sizzling table runner for the Christmas table. Separate the Chinese lantern stems so there is one lantern and a bit of stem on each. Thread each on to a length of florists’ wire, leaving a gap between each lantern and threading the spindle berries into the gaps as you go. Wind ribbon down the chain and lay it across the table, scattering sparkler heads of giant alliums in each curve, sprayed crimson.

10. Fashion festive napkin rings from hyacinth flowers. Cut individual hyacinth flowers from the central stem and lace each one on to a short length of florists’ wire. Bend the wire around a napkin and secure it at the back. To make them last as long as possible, store the rings in the salad drawer of the fridge.

Reader offer: Sarah Raven’s Complete Christmas costs £25 but Homes & Property readers can buy it for £20 including p&p by calling 01256 302699 and quoting code GLR 1HF, or you can visit www.bloomsbury.com/completechristmas.

Buy glass flower floats and waterproof glue tack from Sarah Raven (01424 838000; www.sarahraven.com).

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