Yesterday I had a good mooch round the garden collecting foliage for my Advent Ring, it was the first Sunday in Advent yesterday so I made it just in time!
Over the years in the garden I’ve managed to get a reasonable collection of evergreen foliage which is good for simple flower arrangements, they are all big enough now to cope with a bit of pruning at Christmas time! I’ve also learnt which shrubs to avoid, like Choisya Ternata, it is a beautiful golden colour but it smells like cat pee! Ceanothus also looks pretty, but it doesn’t last well enough.
Instead of holly I usually use osmanthus in small arrangements, it has leaves like a holly but they don’t feel quite as prickly and they are clustered together in a way I find more useful. It grows well in my heavy clay soil so I have three different ones, plain, and two variegated ones.
Box is a useful filler, I also like to use herbs such as purple sage and rosemary as it gives a nice scent to the arrangement. My herbs were new shrubs this year so I just snipped a little rosemary. I also managed a little snip of a pretty little purple hebe I planted in the spring, it adds a touch of colour.
Eunonymous is another good tough variegated shrub which is happy to lose a few sprigs at this time of year. I’ve a prostrate juniper in the front garden too which is mainly gree with just the odd wisp of cream.
I usually have a little wander up the back lane as there is a lovely big tree ivy which has wonderful seedheads, next to it is the usual creeping ivy which I usually manage to find a few strands with nice little leaves. By the end of my forage I usually have a good basket of foliage.
For the last few years I’ve used a candelabra for my Advent ring, I got it cheap on Otley market and it just nicely holds an 8″ ring of oasis. Oasis is quite rightly getting some bad press at the moment as it is not biodegradable, they’ve come up with an alternative which is half biodegradable but what use is that!! Hopefully the flower arranging community will come up with a better plan soon.
I’m no flower arranger, my usual method is just to go round the oasis with four sprigs of this, four sprigs of that until I can’t see the oasis anymore! I put my daily Advent candle in the middle and surround it with the four candles for the four Sundays in Advent. I managed to break one of the candles when I was trying to secure it in the candle holders, they were a set of four I found at my mum’s house so I wasn’t going to go out and buy another four! I managed to stick it back together by melting a bit of the wax, unfortunately that left a big sooty mark on the candle, although it’s not as bad as it looks in the photo!! I’ve decided to use that one first so it will burn down the furthest and hopefully pass the smudge!
My finishing touch is a length of tiny LED lights, these make it pretty even when the candles aren’t lit. Every Sunday we light one more candle so on the Sunday before Christmas we will light all four candles as well as the central one. Christmas will soon be here!