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Christmas foraging with Kitten Grayson

Christmas foraging with Kitten Grayson

The early winter air is pure in Herefordshire. Neon-yellow lichen clings to the windfall branches that litter the lanes and fields, evidence of high winds and an absence of sulphur dioxides (though for visiting urbanites, inhaling the bite is proof enough). A hard-blue sky promises frost, but the ground is still warm. It is a ripe morning for a festive foraging expedition. Kitten Grayson has found a quince tree in need of pruning. One low branch spent the summer contorting itself towards the light, like an outstretched hand. A small saw is produced and it is hacked off at the joint. She holds the branch aloft and her imagination races away. “Think of helichrysum baubles. Or you could even hang it, then put hooks above a dining table, then fairy lights or tea lights, or bracken, or baubles. It will become a foraged chandelier. “I’m a big picture person. But it’s not boring — never boring.” Grayson is star of London’s luxury floristry scene, though florist is not a job title she likes (“a bit petrol station”). An impish figure in floral headdress, blanketed against the chill of the Welsh Marches in cape and faux-fur collar, the 34-year-old plantswoman specialises in vast installations, disheveled and with an abundant, eccentric quality more akin to theatrical stage sets than formal, presentational arrangements. Today, she is leading me on a foraging expedition to gather winter flora, what she calls “an adult treasure hunt”. She wants to prove a proposition: that with imagination, flair and basic equipment we can build a sustainable display to upstage any bedecked, be-baubled Christmas tree. With free seasonal booty (and one or two extras), she promises to create an arrangement with drama and originality. In fact, she says, I may never buy […]

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