Use your garden and get crafty

Credit: Jason Ingram

Nature tables at school were gardening writer Louise Curley’s introduction to what she calls the “diversity, detail and incredible beauty of the natural world”.

The shells and leaves, unusual seed heads and feathers captured her imagination, along with Jill Barklem’s Brambly Hedge books, with their evocative illustrations of the mice who lived among the ancient hedgerows of Epping Forest in Essex.

Now Curley has her own nature table and shares her tips on turning simple foraged finds, – twisted stems or seed heads, pine cones or rose hips – into a beautiful display for the home.


Cover leaves and berries (such as bay, rosemary, pine, rose hips, hawthorn berries) thinly in egg white; press in an even layer of caster sugar. Shake off excess and place on baking paper. Put in fridge until required.

Branch tree

Use birch, alder or contorted hazel. Prune to fit your wide-bottomed container. Fill base with pine cones, or pebbles and adorn with anything from Chinese lanterns to crab apples.

Credit: Jason Ingram

Paper-white narcissi

Grow in old tins, preserving jars and textured pots for a quirky display. Rest the bulb on a bed of pebbles or shells placed in the bottom of the container. Pour in enough water so it settles just below the base of bulb. Top up as necessary. Start in a cool, dark place for roots to develop, then place in a sunny spot.

The Crafted Garden by Louise Curley is available from Telegraph Books

Credit: Jason Ingram
Credit: Jason Ingram