Fruity decorations

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I have a Christmas door wreath that I made in a class about ten years ago, and judging on its general state of health, I shouldn’t have packed it away last year, I should have put it out of its misery then and there.

So, for this year I’m going to start from scratch and you can join me should you wish.

Before I even start collecting suitable material from the garden, I need to prepare my fruity add-ons. I plan to use some thick-skinned oranges and lemons (both whole and sliced), some red skinned apples and I’ll also need to find a shop selling star fruit.

Other things that you will need are a sharp knife, a chopping board, bowl, banking sheets, twine or ribbon, florist’s wire and for good measure some fabric or buttons to accent ornaments.  You will also need some lemon juice, ground cinnamon, nutmeg or cloves (optional)

Drying the fruit
Preheat the oven to 200C.   Slice the apples and star fruit into approximately half a centimetre cross section slices (0.6cm/0.25in). The apples should be cut so that the central core looks like a star.   Gently remove the star fruit seeds with the point of a sharp knife.   Put the lemon juice into a bowl and coat only the apple slices in it. The oranges and starfruit can be dried ‘naked’.

Place these fruit slices onto a paper towel, and cover with another paper towel.   Gently dab the fruit until much of the moisture has been absorbed.   Then sprinkle with ground cinnamon, nutmeg or cloves as this will give them a nice fragrance.   Use a toothpick to make a whole in the centre of each fruit slice so that you can then thread twine or ribbon through it..  Transfer fruit to a baking sheet, and bake for 4-6 hours until the fruit is dry, flipping the slices every hour.

Making the basic wreath
With secateurs in hand, cut strands of garden climbers such as honeysuckle, clematis or the dreaded ivy that needs a seasonal haircut.   If you have a yew tree where you could snip off a couple of long stems, safe in the knowledge that however far back you make the cut, the yew will regenerate.   Wind your harvest of stems around to form a decent circlet of at least 30cm (12in) and secure all the ends with florists wire.

Add a wire loop at this stage so that you can hang up your wreath.   You can now space your dried fruit carefully. You can also add in some bursts of colour and texture with cones and sprigs of holly berries should the birds have left you with any.

(c) Valerie McBride Munro

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