Twelfth Night and All That

Traditionally, Twelfth Night marks the end of festivities to celebrate Christmas, the culmination of giving and feasting representing the day before the three wise men came bearing their offerings.  “On the Twelfth Day of Christmas my true love sent to me: 12 Drummers Drumming, Eleven Pipers Piping …” the full shebang.  Shakespeare wrote a play about it, to be performed at the end of Christmastide. And, it’s the date to remember to take down the things we’ve decorated our homes with, lest bad luck happen.

This year I created things of wonder (well to me anyway).  Surrounded by long views of rolling English countryside and lush green at every window I didn’t feel to need to bring in a chopped down conifer, much as I love the smell of pine.

xmas_treeWe have been clearing our new garden, opening it up to plan it the way we want it.  A shrub that survived our garden makeover was the Corkscrew Hazel, or Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’. It’s a native in the hedgerows here, descended from a natural mutation found in a hedge more than 150 years ago.

As the leaves fell and I could see its structure better, I pruned off a few branches.  One was perfect in size, shape and habit to bring indoors as our ‘tree’, which I dressed with simple white lights and small baubles.

And for the front door I made a wreath, mainly with things from our garden.  It’s made on a wire frame packed with damp sphagnum moss.  I added eucalyptus leaves and twists of eucalyptus bark; cushions of dried seed heads from Verbena bonariensis (that plant just keeps on giving …); spikes of Choisya ‘Aztec Pearl’ leaves and flower buds; star anise from the spice cupboard; dried orange slices and some small fir cone treasures I’d collected along the way.


So as I carefully dismantle my creations, I’m also enjoying a warm feeling knowing that no trees were harmed in the making of this production and I have the makings of future festive decorations.