Husnara Begum Head & Shoulders ImageWhen my lovely neighbour Myra suggested having a go at flower arranging, I almost dismissed it as a past-time for the crochet-loving blue rinse brigade who frequented Women’s Institute gatherings. But as a lover of all things crafty I thought why not, and much to my surprise, it didn’t take long until I became hooked.

Though unlike Myra I’m still a long way from putting together a prize-winning display worthy of being showcased at Chelsea, I find flower arranging a super relaxing hobby and a great way to give the artistic part of my brain a proper workout. This is especially important for me because so many of my other interests involve being indoors and spending time in front of a computer screen, or dare I say it, the TV. So, what better way to pass the time than being out in the fresh air and rooting around for cuttings to include in my floral creations?

What’s more, if like me, you’re lucky enough to have lots of greenery around you and enjoy foraging, once you’ve purchased the essential items such as secateurs, wires (and cutter), ribbons and other accessories for a final flourish much of the other materials are free.

For some arrangements a simple jam jar (again available for free) will do but for others you’ll also need a green foam called oasis. Note – this is the ugly part of flower arranging because this stuff takes years to decompose, so if you really get into flower arranging please try experimenting with more eco-friendly alternatives such as chicken wire, which can be recycled.

If you’re feeling inspired and fancy having a go, why not attempt making a Christmas wreath to get yourself into that festive spirit?

Equipment & non-plant materials. An oasis ring (readily available online); secateurs; wire; wire cutters; optional accessories (ribbons, pine cones, sprayed in a colour that complements the rest of your display; baubles and anything else that looks Christmassy that you have lying around at home).

Cuttings. The ones used in my wreath (pictured) included: variegated (that means the leaves are two-toned) holly with red berries; a mixture of fern leaves; bay leaves; skimmia; and ivy (what else?). Though it helps to become familiar with plant names it really isn’t necessary. Just use your eyes (and common sense) to see what’s around you then leave the rest to your imagination!

Basic Method.

  1. Start by taking your cuttings first. Give them plenty to drink by placing in a bucket of water, stems side down, overnight.
  2. Prepare your oasis by gently placing in a bowl of water. Do not plunge it into the water or run under a tap because the oasis will end up with air bubbles meaning some of the cuttings you place into it will be starved of liquid.
  3. The next step is to add some wire or ribbon to the oasis, which can act as a hook so your finished wreath can be hung up on a door or wall. Note: the finished wreath is quite heavy so ensure any wire or ribbon you use is robust enough to carry the weight – otherwise, everything will end up in a huge pile on the floor.
  4. Slowly start building your wreath from the outside edges of the oasis. The fern cuttings are a great choice for this. A top tip here is remembering to ensure the stems on all your cuttings have a clean edge as this will increase the shelf-life of your wreath.
  5. Once you’ve got the edges of your wreath sorted, start to gradually add cuttings to the front, ensuring the foliage is evenly balanced. I’d recommending saving the flatter leaves (like ivy) for the end as they are great for covering any parts of the oasis that remain exposed. Also, hold your wreath up intermittently so you can see what it will look like once it’s hung up. As I could readily get my hands on holly adorned with red berries I decided against adding any flowers or other accessories to my wreath. But in the event your wreath needs a splash of colour I’d recommend roses or carnations and anything else that can be inserted into the oasis that complements your colour scheme. Festive table floral arrangement

As an alternative to a wreath you could tweak the above to create a table display instead. In my version (pictured), I placed the wreath on a large dinner plate and then positioned a chunky candle wrapped in cinnamon stick in the centre. Other final flourishes included dried fruit and some gold leaves that I cut from some Christmas decorations I was about to chuck out.

Please give it a go because the possibilities are endless! And thank you Myra for your input on both my displays and indeed the content of this blog!

Husnara Begum, associate coach and contributing editor