Autumn is always a magical time on our sustainable English flower farm as the hues of summer fade into a rich palette of deep red, muted pinks, flame, terracotta, magenta and gold. It’s also the perfect time to plan ahead and preserve berries and foliage to decorate your home for Christmas. So we’ve put together a guide of our top ten berries and greenery to look out for and where to find them.

When you are foraging, always make sure you take only a little and trim from a place that looks particularly overgrown or is less noticeable. Don’t cut all the way back to the trunk so you enable the branch to regrow. At this time of year it’s worth tucking a pair of scissors or secateurs into your pocket when you go out walking as you never know what treasures you might spot – our Japanese floristry scissors with their leather cover are the perfect option.

Here are our top ten greenery and berries to look out for and where to find them:

  1. Old Man’s Beard (Clematis Vitalba) is sometimes referred to as nature’s tinsel. You can find the silky tufty balls of Old Man’s Beard decorating the hedgerows from mid to late September onwards after the plant has finished flowering. Cut generous lengths, pick off any seeds and then spray with hairspray to help your stems to last longer. We’ve used Old Man’s Beard in our Nordic Foliage Wreath this year.
  2. It’s no surprise that for English rose farmers, Rose Hips have made it into our top ten. We grow some roses on our sustainable English flower farm just for their hips and our Berry & Herb door wreath and table wreaths are both bejewelled with glistening red berries. We recommend picking rose hips in autumn when they are plump and looking their best. Strip off the leaves and store in a cool dark place ready for Christmas.
  3. The scarlet jewels of Hawthorn (Crataegus) berries always look so wonderful in the autumn hedgerows. As with rose hips, we suggest cutting lengths in autumn when they are looking their best, beware of their evil thorns, remove any leaves and then store them in a cool dark spot to dry.
  4. Hydrangeas are always a firm favourite, both for us here on the farm and for our customers. The vibrant green flowers of Hydrangea Paniculata, which came into bloom over the summer, have now faded to a muted coffee blush with antique pink tips, which work beautifully with the shades of autumn. Hydrangeas dry well adding texture and colour to the home throughout winter. The plants tend to be very thirsty, so either leave them to dry in a vase with just a bit of water or use the glycerine method described below.
  5. Look out for Teasels (Dipsacus) in grassland, around the edges of fields and even on wasteland in autumn, their spiky, architectural green heads –covered in purple flowers in summer and turning to brown in winter – add texture and interest to wreaths or can be displayed dried in vases at home. Make sure you don’t take too many as Teasels provide vital food for birds over the winter.
  6. Later on in autumn look out for the bright red, white or even black berries of Dogwood, also known as Cornus. Dogwood can be found in the hedgerows and can be preserved using the glycerine method described below.
  7. Yew, Box and Fir are the epitome of a traditional English Christmas. They work wonderfully in a Christmas wreaths or garlands. Store the stems in a cool dark place to dry or use them immediately.
  8. If you discover some Mistletoe you can reach then it’s well worth gathering as it lasts really well. Sadly, it’s hard to come by near our flower farm in the South Down’s National Park in Hampshire.
  9. Holly is symbolic of Christmas and it lasts well. If you are going for a walk and looking to gather some holly, it’s worth wearing gloves to avoid the prickles.
  10. Ivy can work beautifully draped over the table, around a fireplace or trailing from a vase. Our favorite type on the farm is ivy with berries. The berries don’t last long with birds around so it’s worth snipping a few stems if you see them.

You can discover our Christmas flower collection here or why not join us for one of our London or Hampshire wreath-making workshops? You can find more details here.