We have flowers in the house all year round but in the darker, colder months of winter and early spring they really cheer me up when it's miserable and leafless outside.

In spring, the house is filled with the flowers of spring bulbs. We all know just how important those early sources of food are when the bees start foraging on the slightly warmer (>10 degrees celcius) days. We always grow far more than we would ever pick but if having cut flowers encourages more people to plant more nectar-rich flowers then I have no problem with taking a few indoors to cheer me up.

At the end of the year–when the spring bulbs seem like they are many short, dark days away–bringing festive cheer into the house is one of my favourite things to do. As far as flowers go, in December, we have mahonia, viburnum, pansies, calendula and erysimum flowering for the bees but this year the temperatures have barely reached 10 degrees C and the bees haven't been visiting. I used most of these flowers in my wedding bouquet and to decorate our wedding cake when we got married in December last year.

Our wedding cake 27/12/2019 decorated exclusively with flowers, greenery and berries from our garden.

But December really is the time for evergreen foliage and berries. In the garden, evergreens provide good shelter and nesting places for birds and the berries provide an excellent food source. And both foliage and berries provide excellent material for festive decorations.

I am not a trained florist by any means but I have been to quite a few of the courses at The Lodge Flower and Craft School in Hemingford Grey, about 30 minutes north-west of Cambridge. Last year I did the table decoration day and reused the bowl this year to make another one. Filled with ivy, holly, yew, ruscus, hazel, barberry, pyracantha, cotoneaster, heather and Japanese quince it looks very cherry and festive on the hall table.

Two types of ivy along with yew and a variegated holly make up the core of the foliage.
Red-orange berries from a pyracantha. Thorny but worth it for the colour.
These bright red berries from a neglected berberis hedge were by far my favourite addition. Just watch the very long thorns!
Japanese quince (chaenomeles speciosa) makes a bright, festive addition alongside the more gentle white bells of the heather (erica carnea f. alba 'Springwood White), picking up on the variegated foliage. The twisting, curly stems of the corylus avellana 'Contorta' (corkscrew hazel)

Although in previous years I have made my own wreath, this year I went along to the wreath-making course for some more inspiration and came away with a beautiful wreath over a wire and moss base filled with fruiting ivy, spruce, year and holly with pine cones and dried citrus for colour (that you will note matches our door!). As always, any red berries were very quickly consumed by the birds and I have no doubt the ivy berries will follow later in the season.

This year's wreath made on a wire and moss base filled with fruiting ivy, spruce, year and holly.

Being able to bring in my own flowers and foliage for festive decorations is just one of the many bonuses of having a wildlife-friendly garden. So fill your garden with evergreens and berries so that next year you can help the birds and bring in some festive cheer.