Bestselling Australian Author
Bestselling Australian Author
I'm rather eclectic in my style tastes in many areas, but one style remains firm: country.
I love nothing more than picking up interesting items while walking in the country or at the beach. Gnarled bits of wood, shells, twigs, stones – especially stones, I adore them. I then use them to create simple, fast decorations. Free decorations – right there in your environment and in your garden.
We've had a few grey days in the run up to this weekend. It’s March and early autumn (or fall if you prefer) here in Australia and as I love country and love ‘simple country’ style, I went out to my garden with secateurs in hand and collected fresh foliage. I usually snip the foliage that has to be pruned anyway – but I loathe just binning it all. I always put something in a vase or a jug.
If you love country style
If you're in love with country as much as I am, it’s so easy to whip up a centrepiece or create an interesting table setting. It takes next to no time. I created and arranged all these in about half an hour.
Left: A large flattish stone, a piece of (whatever it is foliage – I am no gardener! But it's tough and stringy) simply wound into a natural circlet, a snippet of beautiful Virginia Creeper tucked into the circlet, and a big fat candle.
Centre: Branches of my favourite tree in the garden (again, I only take the bits that need pruning or are overhanging), some branches from my olive trees, a sprig of bougainvillea, a glass jug, and shells sitting in the bottom of the jug.
Right: A silver candle holder, a long section (or two shorter, wound together) of any climbing or trailing plant in your garden, and a big fat candle.
If it’s summer, then you can run wild with colour while still using the same items: twigs, stones, candle holders.
You can design and create so many things that all appeal to the eye without distracting the eye. Think outside the usual, and to do this all you have to do is forget everything you’ve been told about making something perfect.
I might not use everything in the above photo all at once on the same dinner table, but since I made them all up in next to no time, I let them sit in the photo so you could see the variety.
I set the servings spoons on a granite tile I found spare in the garage (left over from our entrance hallway and sitting in a pile of spares, doing nothing), propping the tile up with a large black stone.
I used some bought stones to set a trail in front of it. These bought stones are lovely, they are each carved with Chinese lettering with English translation beneath: Harmony, Peace, Love, Spirit, Calm.
If you have enough stones, you could wind a trail along the centre length of the table.
Don't forget the place settings
If you can stick to linens and natural textures, all the better. But again, depending on the season or the holiday (like Christmas, or a Valentine’s dinner or a summer barbeque for friends) you can use the same items time and again by simply adding colour.
Above, I’ve placed fresh foliage on the linen napkins, and rested the cutlery on gnarled bits of wood to the side of the dinner plates.
This is my favourite no-assembly-required centrepiece.
Photo above: I cut off a clump of this (whatever it’s called tough, winding plant which is so easy to weave into a circle or a ball simply by tucking the ends in to your preferred size) that was hanging over a gate latch and getting in the way. I plopped it onto a large silver plate (which happens to made of paper by the way) and that was it. No assembly required. And it’s gorgeous in its simplicity.
Let us not forget the humble jam jar
Let your imagination run wild with a jam jar.
Layer it with stones and sit a tealight candle inside.
Do the same with battery operated tealight candles and sit the jars on the steps to your house so guests have a lit pathway to your front door.
Fill the jar with brightly coloured wrapped lollies and sweet treats.
Use jam jars as cutlery holders (especially good for barbeques or outdoor events).
My advice? Never throw out a good looking jam jar.
A few tips for your freshly cut foliage
I haven't tried this yet, but I'm going to.
If you want to preserve leaves, immerse them in a mixture of glycerine and water. The glycerine preserves the leaves without flattening them. Make a solution of one part glycerine to two parts boiling water. Pour this into a flat pan. Submerge the leaves. Store this pan in a secluded place for two to six days. When you take them out of this solution, wipe the leaves with a damp cloth. The leaves will remain soft and pliable indefinitely.
You can do the same for leaves still attached to a branch or twig. Immerse the entire branch in a warm solution of one part glycerine to one part boiling water. Leave the branch in the mixture for two to three weeks.