Carols and hymns are wound through with references to holly and ivy, and the tradition of collecting these intensely green reminders that life does continue year round stretches way back to pre-Christian times. A foraging walk requires a sturdy bag and secateurs and will make decorating your home or creating a wreath an easy job.
Both holly and ivy are easy to find growing wild in Britain – ivy is an important autumn source of pollen for bees and other pollinators, while holly berries, although toxic to humans, are enjoyed by birds and other wildlife. You’ll need to track down a cluster of holly bushes, since only the female produces berries, but both sexes need to be nearby!
Mistletoe also has its parasitic roots in pre-Christian times, but these days gathering some for a cheeky doorway ornament doesn’t require the use of a golden sickle on the sixth day of the moon’s cycle, just good local air quality and a keen eye. Though as the orchards in which it is most often found are now rare and localised you are more likely to find it at a market.
Cone and fir garland
When you’re out on a woodland walk keep your eyes peeled for cones, berries, twigs and leaves to make into homemade decorations. You don’t have to spend a fortune on decorations, there are plenty of things to forage for free that add seasonal sparkle. No need to stick to a natural, Shaker-style Christmas either – use paint, glitter and colourful ribbon to help them work with your chosen colour scheme. It’s a good idea to keep a plastic bag in your pocket so you’re always ready to collect mother nature’s winter bounty.
Collect 20 cones and several fir tree twigs, needles still attached. Cut the twigs into 5cm lengths and strip needles from one end, exposing about 1cm of bare stem.
Cut a 1m length of garden string (or ribbon, or twine).
To make the garland, simply alternate between cones and fir sprigs, tying them onto the string at 2cm intervals. Leave enough string at either end to attach to the tree, mantelpiece or spot of your choice.
A foraged hamper
Been foraging all year to make delicious goodies? Use these to make a foraged hamper of treats - it's a thoughtful, handmade gift idea.
Follow the instructions over on Wolves in London blog where you'll find recipes, ideas and inspiration for homegrown, foraged and seasonal food, perfect for a foraged Christmas hamper.