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Deck the Halls with Foliage: tips for going natural this holiday season

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Posted: Thursday 14th December 2017 by WildBlog

By Sarah Mitchell, Communications Officer

It’s time to dig out our colourful outfits and sparkly accessories, switch on the twinkly lights and turn up the volume on the festive tunes. Cinnamon, orange and chocolate scents waft through the crisp air as mulled drinks are poured and we huddle together to share delicious meals with one another.

The Festive season can be full of joy and spirit, as we busily buy presents and decorate. Sometimes there can be pressures to spend a lot on pulling it all together - many of us using non-recyclable cheaply made materials in the process. One satisfying way to cut down on the holiday expenses is to go natural for the décor! Using natural materials is a wonderful way to adorn our spaces with the stunning rich red berries and greens from the evergreen plants that are found for free in nature. This also helps us cut down on using plastics, glitter and other materials containing chemicals that are harmful to our bodies and the environment.

Avoiding fake plastic trees is a good starting point. If you buy a real tree you can either get a living one, potted, that you can later replant, or buy one from a Christmas tree seller. Real trees support local businesses and can be a good way to give back. Here at Avon Wildlife Trust, we recently sold trees from a local plantation – collecting proceeds to support the work that we do to protect our local landscapes and wildlife. Having plants inside our homes creates a positive environment and we can enjoy the refreshing festive fragrance of a fir or a pine. If you don’t want to buy a whole tree, you can also make one. Using recycled cardboard or paper, logs or pallets for this are fun crafty alternatives.

Placing foraged branches, leaf cuttings and berries in jars, or draped over surfaces is a simple way of adding a classy touch of foliage and can also be perfect for hanging ornaments. Evergreen plants such as holly and ivy are great, or other traditional Christmas plants such as lichen encrusted twigs, poinsettia, olive branches or conifers. But you can easily branch out from these depending on what you see when you’re outside to create your own aesthetic. You can also create stunning runners by laying down hessian over surfaces, and bunching the plants into bouquets to place over it – tying them together with twine. Going for a walk and collecting seed heads, pinecones and twigs to whitewash with a light coat of paint can add a frosted look to these decorations. Some of our staff have even used logs and twigs to make mini wooden reindeer.

Making your own wreath out of willow and natural materials is fun to do while enjoying some warm mince pies and hot drinks with friends or family. You can decorate your wreath with pinecones, Christmas tree cuttings, pine, holly, ivy and other winter shrubs. Adding oven dried orange or lemon slices, cinnamon sticks and other fruit or spice for extra festive aromas is another wholesome touch. Not only will these wreaths be unique and handmade, but they also smell fresh and can be a lovely gift. Weaving willow takes a bit of practice, but there are plenty of tutorials online for you to pick up this new skill before the year comes to an end. One tip is to soak your lengths of willow in water for 24 hours before you shape it.

Nature provides for us in so many ways – from the food we eat to our wellbeing as we spend time outside learning from and enjoying its beauty. Bringing that into our homes not only knocks off some items from our shopping list, but it also creates a rustic aesthetic and most importantly can be a small individual action that we can take to value and celebrate our natural world.

Why not visit one of our reserves this winter, to see what you can collect to decorate your home with.

Photos (c): Wreath making, Susie Pearce; Foliage, hessian and cheese spread, Nicole Daw; Box of foliage, Julie Doherty, AWT Christmas tree in snow, Joe McSorley; Foliage and hessian runner, Nicole Daw, Dried Oranges, Rachael Fickweiler.  

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