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Why You Should Embrace the Poinsettia this Christmas

Interiors writer Kara O’Reilly has been inspired by Christmasses past to embrace all things natural this year, from the holly and the ivy to the fiery poinsettia

I am going green for Christmas – not just in being a conscious consumer and remembering to recycle the wrapping paper, compost the Christmas tree and turn this year’s cards into next year’s gift labels, but in my approach to the ‘look’ for Christmas 2017.

Kara O'Reilly on why to stay home at Christmas

Kara O’Reilly

It’s part inspired by the Geffrye Museum’s annual Christmas Past exhibition which shows how we decorated for Christmas through four centuries (this is your last chance to see it for a while as the Geffrye closes in January for a refurb); part by Dennis Severs’ house in Spitalfields, and part due to my ongoing interest in plants down to the work I did for my book.

So, to take all these threads and spin them together, think holly and ivy, cyclamen and amaryllis, pine wreaths and poinsettias. Yep, going au naturel means a return to the old ways of doing things.

A friend is currently PR-ing the poinsettia in a bid to make it hip for the Instagram generation, but personally I have always been partial to this most kitsch of Christmas blooms.

While the poinsettia is bold enough in shape and shade to hold its own, it looks spectacular used en masse: a cluster crowding out your mantelpiece or doing sentry duty up your front steps, for example.

While the poinsettia is bold enough in shape and shade to hold its own, it looks spectacular used en masse: a cluster crowding out your mantelpiece or doing sentry duty up your front steps

Having said that, my favourite seasonal bloom is the fabulously blowsy amaryllis – one of those plants that gives you a lot of bang for your buck. Both the poinsettia and amaryllis come in hues other than the more usual red – white, pinks and yellowy-greens to name some – but the lipstick versions of both are my hands-down faves.

When taking the dog out, I am also going to be foraging for fallen twigs to place in vases and entwine with the ubiquitous white fairy lights. Possibly adding Harrods’ completely fab-u-lous range of garden-inspired decorations if I get organised enough to order them online (think bunches of radishes and carrot seed packets).

Interesting to note that plants for this time of year come in deep bottle greens with highlights of snow white (mistletoe, cyclamen) or rose red (holly berries, amaryllis), so it’s no wonder we revisit these colours year after year when it comes to our Christmas decorative themes – whether natural or man-made…

At Home With Plants by Ian Drummond & Kara O’Reilly (Mitchell Beazley, £20)



 

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