Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Let Nature Take Over

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Let Nature Take Over

Article excerpt

Byline: Pattie Barron

GETTING Christmas decorations right is an art, and you would expect a stylist specialising in plants to excel at it. Jacky Hobbs does not disappoint. The look she favours at her home in Richmond, which she shares with her teenage daughters Lauren and Siena, is natural and at the same time enchanting.

"I love the garden, and look on Christmas decorations as my last gardening chance for the year," she says. "So I use nature as my base -- green foliage and white flowers -- then add a few floral layers: roses, maybe cyclamen or lilies, with frothy gypsophila. The pared-back interiors in my home make a brilliant blank canvas."

What makes her decorations special are the fine details. She says: "I like to create little scenes within the big picture, so when friends and family come in, they enjoy making discoveries around each corner. I use small metal garden tables throughout the house, dressing them with plants, pots and budding spring bulbs."

These small, charming touches are everywhere: a slate heart displays a chalked Noel and hangs on a door, dressed with mistletoe and a ribbon; sprigs of holly are pushed into curtain tiebacks as well as into the antique French zinc pelmet in her bedroom; an old stepladder becomes a display case for several potted ornamental cabbages. Even a vase of flowers is wrapped in satin ribbon, tied in a bow to resemble a parcel.

"I go to Nine Elms Flower Market at the start of December and buy a tray of hyacinths or hellebores, whatever catches my eye -- I prefer outdoor plants to houseplants," says Hobbs.

"Poinsettias are great value. They don't have to be red -- look for subtler pinks and ice greens -- and use them as cut flowers, too, by snipping off the individual rosettes. They'll last through Christmas if you pass the cut stem through an open flame to seal the sap. You can use them tucked into napkin rings at the table, or anywhere you want to add a special touch."

Her Christmas dining table is an old wooden garden table, covered with a vintage French linen sheet.

"It's easier to make a white cloth festive with seasonal flowers than to use a patterned one," says Hobbs. …

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