Celebrity florist PHILIPPA CRADDOCK creates an evergreen Christmas in her Sussex studio.
An inviting table laden with a stunning centrepiece of eucalyptus, ligustrum, spruce, ivy, viburnum and silver asparagus ferns. ‘You can use any evergreen foliage,’ says Philippa. ‘Much can be foraged or taken from the garden: holly, evergreen oak and buxus. Spend money on the foliage and you can be more sparing with the flowers,’ says Philippa. The dining chairs are from Oka (oka.com)
There is nothing clichéd about Philippa Craddock’s Christmas. Muted greens and moody blues with garlands of foliage and the soft glow of candlelight create an inviting space. ‘My theme for Christmas is winter in the city and I have taken inspiration from the dark skies, the street lights and the feeling of friends and family gathering,’ says Philippa, a celebrated florist whose fashionable clients include Alexander McQueen, Christian Dior and Jo Malone London. ‘I love the traditional colours we associate with Christmas – the reds and golds – but I want to do something a bit different and edgier,’ she says. ‘There is a lot of uncertainty at the moment and so people want to hunker down; be a bit more reserved and not quite so flashy.’
As the florist-of-choice for Kensington Palace, Hampton Court Palace and the V&A, Philippa is a master of opulence, too. She turned The Dorchester hotel into an English country garden wonderland for the marriage of the daughter of a Russian oligarch and has designed flowers for the weddings of celebrities including Geri Halliwell and Ronan Keating. Last year she created the festive window installations for Hermès, while this year she turned her attention to the ones in Selfridges.
Philippa uses sprigs of pine and thistle tied with midnight blue velvet ribbon for place settings. The deep blues and greens have a painterly quality in the candlelight. The plates are by Dassie Artisan (dassieartisan.com), the cutlery is Summerill & Bishop (summerillandbishop.com) and the napkins are from The Linen Works (thelinenworks.co.uk)
Philippa has three children – Ben, 11, Barnaby, nine and Tilly, six – with husband Tony, a former lighting designer and now sales and marketing director for Philippa’s company. ‘I love getting them involved with decorating the house for Christmas,’ she says. ‘I tend to lay out all the flowers and foliage and get them to put them together. I never take over. It might be wonky, but that is the charm of it.’
Give your Christmas presents a woodland theme by tucking sprays and twigs under the ribbon the night before. Mix simple, inexpensive brown paper with a more luxe selection, such as those from John Lewis (johnlewis.com) and Paperchase (paperchase.co.uk). The ribbons are from Kate Cullen (katecullen.co.uk)
A garland of eucalyptus, silvery asparagus ferns and spruce sits on top of a high-backed bench from The New Craftsmen (thenewcraftsmen.com). The foliage underneath creates drama and depth. ‘It transforms a piece of furniture into a showstopping design,’ says Philippa. The table is from Puckhaber (puckhaberdecorativeantiques.com)
At a table designed by Tony, Philippa arranges blue thistles and pimpernel hydrangeas among foliage in a vase. Philippa is self-taught and gave up a high-powered job in London when she had her first child. ‘I was a complete and utter novice when I started out,’ she says
The petrol blue pimpernel hydrangeas work perfectly with this urn from Petersham Nurseries (petershamnurseries.com). ‘We placed a low bucket filled with scrunched wire and water inside it, which hold the hydrangeas and grey blue eucalyptus in place,’ says Philippa. The armchair is from Dassie Artisan (dassieartisan.com) and the Cire Trudon candle is from Selfridges (selfridges.com). For a similar cushion, try Melanie Porter (melanieporter.co.uk)
How to make Philippa’s Christmas wreath
You will need one wreath ring, scissors, green twine, florist wire and moss, plus hardy and different textured foliage such as spruce, eucalyptus, ivy, evergreen oak and buxus. Christmas decorations such as fir cones, dried oranges and cinnamon sticks look great. Here Philippa has used peacock feathers, fir cones, thistles and gold baubles.
Step 1 Secure generous handfuls of the moss to the top of the wreath ring, tying tightly with green twine to create a sturdy base to work on. Continue until the whole wreath ring is covered with moss.
Step 3 Place each peacock feather firmly into the foliage, keeping the feathers equally spaced, along with wired gold baubles and fir cones to finish. Attach a loop of twine to the reverse, ready to hang on your front door.
Words Susan Springate
Photographs Joanna Henderson
Styling Nicole Gray