This expert guide to how to make a Christmas garland is anything but understated. Never ones to be outdone, the H&G team has this year teamed up with Philippa Craddock, who founded – and heads up – one of the world’s most renowned and highly respected floral design studios to bring you a garland design that's truly stunning.
The fireplace is often the focal point for Christmas decor ideas, and this garland makes for a wonderful mantelpiece design; however, its versatility means that it could just as easily be placed against a staircase wall, adapted to wind over a door frame – and could even grace a front porch.
How to make a Christmas garland
This design is made from branches and fresh flowers. 'The branches form a beautiful, minimalist design and can be left for a long period. The rest lasts a few days,' says Philippa Craddock. 'Try to source the below from local growers.'
You could, of course, substitute in dried or fresh flowers for a longer-lasting display – but nothing matches the beauty of fresh blooms.
Here, Philippa takes us through the project, step by step.
You will need:
- Three long lengths of hazel branches with catkins
- Five smaller hazel branches with catkins
- Five generous handfuls cotoneaster
- Five generous handfuls mixed acacia/mimosa
- 25 x stems Chamelaucium Adi (Knop)
- 10 x stems Hellebores aarendelle ‘Mara Red’
- 20 x stems Talinum ‘Long John’
- Buckets to hold water, to condition stems
- Scissors and secateurs for cutting stems
- Screws or eye hooks, if fixing into a wall or wood
- Flexible, strong household wire or floristry reel wire, to secure branches
- Reusable plastic test tubes, to hold water
1. Condition the stems
The first step is to condition the stems. Before you begin to create your design, give each branch with leaves and flowers a clean cut on an angle (this helps with greater water absorption) and plunge into deep clean buckets or vases of water. Leave them
to drink for up to 48 hours, or 12 hours is fine; just make sure each stem has a really good drink.
2. Create the garland's base structure
Create the base structure using the large branches, remembering that the base mechanics work best when the structure is kept simple. Look for branches that have natural bends, extending up and to the right and finishing with natural splayed branches. This will give an organic tree-like shape.
3. Affix the garland to the wall
Stand the branches on the ground. Place simple screws or eye hooks into natural holes in the fire surround, then secure the branches to these using wire to firmly hold the base structure in place. Bear in mind that the catkins are important to the design – they stop the branches from appearing too sterile and bare, and add a beautiful finished detail.
4. Add in the first stems
As you add each stem, take care to follow the movement of the base branches, with stems flowing in the same direction to maintain the organic shape. The cotoneaster has relatively hardy stems and can be simply wired onto the branches, positioned evenly through the design, without access to water.
5. Add in the mixed acacia stems
First place any delicate ones in small test tubes filled with water, then wire into place in the branches, hiding the tubes.
6. Add in the hellebores
Put the hellebore stems into test tubes of water, then place securely into the branches without wiring, to make daily access to the test tubes easy. The hellebores really make this design – their petals add a perfect elegance and their color works beautifully against the browns, greens and reds.
7. Finish the Christmas garland
Finish with the delicate talinum stems, which bring overall lightness and texture to the design. It’s best to add only what’s needed, without increasing bulk, to maintain a sense of lightness.
Leave the bases of the branches clear, to give the effect of the design growing out from the floor.
The fire was lit for this photo but not left unattended. Never dangle any stem close to naked flames.
Philippa is passionate about supporting everyone through creativity with flowers, whether you are a florist or an enthusiastic home arranger, you can discover more incredible seasonal creativity on her website and via her newsletter.
How do you make a mantel garland?
To make a Christmas garland that sits on a mantel, start by clearing the mantelpiece and lay a plain garland across its length. Next, add string lights, checking they work before moving to the next stage. Start to add decorations – live or faux flowers always look beautiful – dotting pretty details, such as baubles or pine cone decorations into the mix. Stand back regularly to check the balance of colors.
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Lucy Searle has written about interiors, property and gardens since 1990, working her way around the interiors departments of women's magazines before switching to interiors-only titles in the mid-nineties. She was Associate Editor on Ideal Home, and Launch Editor of 4Homes magazine, before moving into digital in 2007, launching Channel 4's flagship website, Channel4.com/4homes. In 2018, Lucy took on the role of Global Editor in Chief for Realhomes.com, taking the site from a small magazine add-on to a global success. She was asked to repeat that success at Homes & Gardens, where she has also taken on the editorship of the magazine.
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