I thought it would be fun to create a completely different kind of wreath this year from the kind I normally make. Previously, green, lush and piney, with pops of colour or a smattering of white, has been my thing, but while still in Oz, I decided gum was the way to go.

A few weeks ago during a mighty storm, some large branches (half a tree) of an elderly gum tree broke off at the Green next to our flat. We noticed them the next morning, hanging dramatically from up high, and before the whole lot was wrapped in red tape and carted off by the council, the boys and I snuck down and broke off some choice lengths, with a view to making our Australian wreath. It didn't take long for it to dry out and it's now a dusty, gnarly silver-green, mottled and quite beautiful.

I wound a dinnerplate-sized circle out of heavy wire, and bound it in place with fine wire, then gradually added the dried gum branches, tying them in with invisible fishing cable. Finally I wove in the dried gazania heads from the garden.

Et voila! It's a joy to have around.



This time last year, our retired-science-teacher-neighbour, showed my fascinated children empty cicada shells clinging to gum trees next to the house, explaining that as a child, she would collect them, spray them gold and put them on the Christmas tree. I smiled sweetly, telling the boys what a lovely idea that was, all the while delighting in the fact that we were bound for England in a matter of days, for the whole of December, and would therefore never have to contemplate bringing the discarded bodies into our home.

Flash forward to a month ago; "Mum! Mummmmm!! Look how many cicadas we've collected for the tree this year! We've got a whole box!". Yay.

I forgot (couldn't bare) to take a 'before' photo so have borrowed this one from Steve Creek. This is what they look like when you find their hollow, molted skins, eerily static.

After peering at a pile of these through the side of a tupperware for a number of weeks, I finally relented and they received their luxe makeover yesterday.

They now cling incongruously to the boys' 90cm plastic tree, with a selection of Oz (as in, Return To) baubles and ribbons to detract from the poised insects. While I might have dreamt of something rather more beautiful for our Australian tree, the boys have never been more enchanted. Qué será.

Haaaaappy Advent!