Image courtesy of Wild at Heart

Deck The Halls

19th October 2012

Whether you’re hosting party after party this festive season or having a simple family gathering, floral decorations help to create a warm, welcoming atmosphere, enveloping guests in both colour and scent, and enabling you to put a truly personal stamp on your celebrations.

If you fear lack of inspiration in between all the baking, present shopping and card writing, relax… Claire Moulds has asked three leading florists what the key floral trends are for Christmas 2012 and how they’ll be decorating their own homes ahead of the big day. Plus, three top tips from each…

Paula Pryke

Paula Pryke

The internationally renowned florist Paula Pryke has over 25 years’ experience of cutting edge, innovative floristry and an enviable ‘A’ list clientele. From her acclaimed Flower School to supplying flowers to the new Coen brothers film; from society weddings to 15 best-selling books – including her latest, Flowers Every Day, which looks at how to grow and arrange seasonal flowers, Paula’s philosophy has been embraced across the globe.

Where will you be spending Christmas this year?
This year I’ll be in Suffolk, enjoying big open fires and long walks in the country surrounded by lots of family members and with an open house for friends. After the celebrations though, I hope to escape to the Alps for some exercise after all that indulgence!

What do you love about Christmas?
After working in the industry for so long it’s fair to say I have had an up-and-down relationship with Christmas over the years. At the height of running all my shops I was exhausted and just slept through most of the holiday!
Now my work tends to end a few days before and I have time to really prepare for and enjoy the festivities with my two daughters who are 10 and 12. I actually really, really enjoy the season now but I do think it puts a lot of pressure on mums and that ‘Father’ Christmas is a bit of a misnomer!

What are the key floral trends for Christmas 2012?
Orange is the big new trend and lots of neon colours. The brighter the better!
Natural and handmade is another key look with an emphasis on heritage and hand-me-down with a lot of Scandinavian influences. I am going very natural this year and scent – cinnamon, star anise, eucalyptus, spruce and pine – will be playing a starring role.

What will you be hanging on your own front door this Christmas?
A huge spruce wreath with a winter wonderland theme. Last year I had a giant real-life moose in the front porch which scared the postman – and a few others! We had used it for a party the year before and it had languished in my store for so long that I decided to garland and decorate it. This year I am planning a slightly more sophisticated look!

How will you be decorating your tree?
This year it will be all about ribbon and natural decorations with a slight woodland theme – you’ll certainly be spying squirrels and mushrooms in and amongst the branches. I also let the girls decorate their own small tree for their room – that’s when you’ll start to see tinsel creeping in!

And what about the rest of your home?
I always garland my mantles with foliage and flowers and then for the Aga I create a food related one with homemade biscuits. On my kitchen door I’ll also have a food related wreath. After all, food and drink plays such an important role in the home at Christmas so why shouldn’t it form part of the decorations as well?

What are your top three tips for decorating your home at Christmas?
1. It takes a long time to make Christmas decorations so start early or keep it really simple. Unless you’ll have professional help, don’t plan to do too much!
2. Choose long lasting flowers: Amaryllis, Lilies, Orchids and even Anthuriums. Use lots of twigs and berries to make the most of your flowers and change the water as often as you can.
3. I always keep some ‘top up’ flowers in a cold greenhouse in order for arrangements to be revitalised with minimum effort.

Nikki Tibbles

WIld At Heart

After an early career in the world of advertising Nikki Tibbles took her passion for flowers and a natural gift for design and apprenticed herself to a south London florist. Having set up her own workshop creating original and beautiful floral designs for weddings and parties she went on to beat 70 rival florists to the lease of a purpose-built florist’s shop in the acclaimed Turquoise Island development and Wild at Heart was born. Eighteen years later Nikki now has concessions in Harrods and Liberty, a flagship store on Pimlico Road, a nationwide delivery service and will soon be launching a new homewares department.

Where will you be spending Christmas this year?
I always spend Christmas in my country home in West Sussex as I love to be able to go for long walks with my four dogs over the holiday. I’ll be joined by my partner and his two children as well as our friends.

What do you love about Christmas?
I love this time of year as I enjoy spending time with those closest to me, going for long walks and having the time to cook, something that in my normal day to day life I don’t always have the time for. From a work point of view it’s also a really enjoyable period, as we offer a bespoke Christmas decorating service so I get to meet with both regular and new customers in their wonderful homes and come up with fabulous concepts to create their dream Christmas – everything from decorating their tree to creating a winter wonderland throughout their home!

What are the key floral trends for Christmas 2012?
Gold, bronze, copper and nude colours are very on trend at the moment. As a huge fan of roses I would always opt for these as they are such a classic and you can get them in beautiful vintage shades that work so well with this season’s colour palette.

What will you be hanging on your own front door this Christmas?
A gorgeous large wreath made of eucalyptus, lavender, dried hydrangea and pine cones.

How will you be decorating your tree?
In my house in London I will decorate my tree in gold, bronze and crystal with varying sizes of baubles, crystal flowers and lots of lights. However, in my house in the country I always look to my surroundings for inspiration and opt for a much more natural feel so I’ll be decorating the tree in shades of green and using natural elements such as holly, fern, lavender, berries and rosemary as decorations. I also make garlands out of dried slices of orange, apples and whole oranges – simple, but effective.

And what about the rest of your home?
I have two big mantelpieces in my London home so I often fill these with a fat garland of eucalyptus and intersperse it with flowers such as white roses and then create a similar design for my staircase. Our dining table at Christmas will feature lots of candles, tea lights and vintage crystal teapots filled with roses, tulips and anemones to create an elegant yet homely feel.

What are your top three tips for decorating your home at Christmas?
1. Look to nature for inspiration and raid your own garden! Mixing holly and ivy with lichen branches and eucalyptus in big galvanised pots will create a simple but stunning arrangement which will also smell amazing.
2. I love roses at any time of year but I think that a collection of small vases filled with white and cream roses surrounded by tea lights adds an element of chic to any Christmas table.
3. And remember, too, decorating your home for Christmas doesn’t have to be hard work. Fill a decorative bowl full of beautiful baubles and use as a coffee table display.

Kally Ellis

McQueens

When Kally Ellis set up internationally-renowned London florist McQueens she had one aim: to sell simple, stylish and beautifully presented flowers. Now in its 21st year McQueens has developed from a small shop in Clerkenwell to a business with clients as diverse and prestigious as Christian Louboutin, Louis Vuitton, Mulberry, Celine, The Grove and The Berkeley, as well as providing flowers and styling for legendary Vanity Fair events, including its post-Oscars party. The McQueens flagship store in Old Street also incorporates a prestigious Flower School which attracts students from all over the world.

Where will you be spending Christmas this year?
This year at home in North London as it’s my turn to play host! I have a brand new kitchen that I am absolutely in love with and it’s large enough to seat us all comfortably. We’ll have a big and noisy Christmas with my husband, children, parents and three sisters. I’m especially excited as my sister who lives over in Cyprus will be joining us.

What do you love about Christmas?
I love Christmas because for me it’s a real break, even though I will be doing the cooking and entertaining this year! We’re always frantically busy from October until the Christmas holidays as we do the flowers for some of London’s most iconic hotels, including Claridge’s, where we also recently opened a second retail outlet, so it’s non-stop. By the time Christmas comes my team and I are completely drained – mentally, emotionally and physically!
For me Christmas is about spending time with the people I love and having time to catch up and unwind together.

What are the key floral trends for Christmas 2012?
I’m going traditional this year: a Scandinavian meets Hansel and Gretel look. It will be rustic with one or two gingerbread men and gingerbread houses to create an enchanting, fairy tale feel. I also adore red gingham and have been desperate to use it!

What will you be hanging on your own front door?
A small but stylish wreath with a touch of red gingham .

How will you be decorating your tree?
My tree will be very much styled using traditional decorations and also lots of natural materials. I’m a great believer in using things from my garden from branches to sprigs of fresh holly.

And what about the rest of your home?
I’ll make my own pot pourri using star anise, cinnamon sticks, orange slices, nuts and ferns in big bowls. Seasonal blooms and winter bulbs will also feature – the latter look fantastic in pots to decorate side tables and lined-up on ledges to create a beautiful floral landscape. There will be more of the same for my mantelpiece, dining table and staircases with lots of church candles – and I’ll also be using candles from our range of McQueens scented candles to make the house smell heavenly.

Your top three tips for decorating your home at Christmas?
1. Use seasonal flowers and bulbs as much as possible. Forage for natural materials – use things from your garden or local woods.
2 .Don’t go overboard with colour and glitz – using a simple colour scheme but repeating it throughout the house will create a stunning end result.
3. Finally, remember that anything can be a vase as long as it can contain water so be creative and use old china cups, jugs, milk bottles, tumblers and wine glasses to display flowers.

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