Do you ever wonder why we spend money on bouquets, when most of us have some sort of greenery in the garden somewhere?
Whether it's glossy tree foliage, leaves from a Camellia bush, palm fronds, conifer, ferns, herbs, or even just bare branches, we can all make the most of it, and create something beautiful with just a little imagination.
We have a variety of tree in our garden, called a Lilly Pilly, and it has the loveliest sturdy green leaves, and these pretty pink berries that display at this time of the year, our Summer.
I've been gifting these bouquets of Lilly Pilly, with little glittered birds perched in the centre, lit with sparkler candles, to all of my daughters teachers this year.
We spray the foliage with water to mist it lightly, and just before presenting the bouquets, we light the three little sparkler candles, so that that are glowing and fizzing on presentation. NOTE: You would NOT do this with very dry or brittle or dried foliage. ONLY use fresh, moist, misted green foliage and exercise caution in lighting and presentation. We also use a long candle style gas lighter to light them, as it's easier to use. Matches would be a bit hair raising. Common sense people, common sense.
But as you can see, they look glorious, and the exclamations of surprise and pleasure are wonderful to see. Can you spot the little glittered bird in the foliage?
Now there are a few secrets to making this look effective and not like you just went out and grabbed some branches and wrapped them in a bit of paper.
First, take longish cuttings, to allow you to trim the foliage bouquet into a neat shape. Cut more than you think you'll need to make it look generous.
Second, shake the foliage well to allow it to release any berries, dead leaves, twigs or critters that might be nesting within. Wash it well under running water or dip into a tub of clean water, and shake it again. This makes it nice and clean and glossy.
Third, you'll need some cellophane. I sourced mine from a floristry supplier at a great price last Christmas, because it's printed with hearts. Who cares. It's still pretty! One large sheet per bouquet is fine.
And finally you'll also need some rubber bands, some sparklers or sparkler birthday candles, a pretty clip on ornament as a focal point (the birds are cute, but it can be anything really), and some wide double faced satin ribbon or other prettiness to finish it. Kitchen twine for a more rustic look would work too, as would a fountain of cascading metallic gift ribbon curls.
So to recap, for one bouquet, you need:
A large handful of stemmed foliage
A sheet of cellophane
Two rubber bands
Three Sparklers or Sparkler candles
Clip on Christmas ornament
Ribbon to finish
A trigger style candle lighter
Now the construction of the 'bouquet' is just as important. Sure, if you want the real rustic look, you can just bundle the branches together and tie them with ribbon, and that's fine too.
But for a 'bouquet', you need to take a little more time and effort.
Shake your foliage again to dry it out a bit, and just as you would with flowers, strip some of the lower leaves from the stems or branches, so you have something to grip.
Next, take a long cutting, and add it to one hand. I'm right handed, so I add the cuttings to my left hand. If you're left handed, you'd do it the opposite way. Keep adding cuttings to your hand, rotating the bouquet as you go, to get a nice even shape. Try to do it holding the foliage down low in that hand, looking down on the bouquet from above, so that you get a nice effect. You want a neat shape from the top and sides, so that's your focus. Don't worry about random bits poking up at this stage, just try to get the majority of the greenery in that rough half sphere shape. It doesn't have to be perfect.
You might find that criss crossing the stems will help you get that desirable sphere-like shape. Don't think the stems all have to be upright.
Once you're happy with the bulk and shape of your bouquet, take a rubber band, and wrap it fairly high up on the stems, to hold the shape in place.
You can then trim the stems or branches to the same length at the base, leaving enough to wrap and hold the bouquet with.
Now take your scissors, and give the bouquet a 'haircut' removing any random bits of foliage that are poking out making it less pleasing to the eye.
Wrap it in the cellophane, making sure that you have the corners arranged prettily and that they don't obscure what you have decided is the 'front' of the bouquet. Secure it with your second rubber band.
Add your clip on ornament to the centre wherever you think it looks best.
Mist the bouquet generously with a spray bottle, or just wet your finger tips and flick water over the foliage.
Insert three sparklers or sparkler candles around the ornament in a triangle shape.
Just before presentation, light the sparklers or sparkler candles and enjoy the surprise and pleasure on the faces of those receiving them.
PS...make sure they blow the candles out or let the sparklers fizzle down to the end!
Total cost, about $1.50 for me, and certainly under $5 even if you had to buy the ornaments, ribbon and cellophane at full price.
A very pretty effect for next to nothing! And the smell of fresh greenery in the house at Christmas is glorious!