IT TOOK florist Janine Gray less than a quarter of an hour to make a stunning table centrepiece from snippets of garden greenery, three roses and a couple of baubles.

But then she’s been in the flower arranging business for 29 years and knows what she’s doing.

However, Janine believes there’s no reason why any of us shouldn’t be able to pick up the skills needed to create decorative arrangements for our homes at Christmas. It’s the reason why this year she has decided to launch a series of workshops – and has set up her own small school of floristry.

“What people need is the basic skills and to pick up a few basic arranging tips, then it’s just a question of using their imagination and being creative,” she said.

Janine, whose business, The Greenhouse, is now based in Milnsbridge, is preparing for one of her busiest times of year.

For those without the time to make their own she will be producing floral decorations with a festive feel. But she’ll also be showing clients how to save money and enjoy creating something that will last over Christmas.

“Everyone has plants in their garden that they can use,” said Janine. “Quite often when people look at the things I’m using they realise that they’ve got them in their own garden; perhaps things they thought of as ugly, like leylandii. But leylandii can look wonderful in an arrangement.”

She also likes to use commonly-available evergreen herbs such as rosemary and bay – for their scent as well as their decorative qualities – and says part of the fun can be searching for foliage, plants with berries and winter flowers.

The arrangement she demonstrated for this page uses a hydrangea flower (most will now be turning autumnal colours); a branch of blue pine; a succulent cactus; sprigs of cotton lavender; the two-tone foliage from scenecio; flowering skimmia (which may also have berries) and three red roses.

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Begin by cutting water retaining foam (oasis) to fit a display bowl. Janine says to pack it tightly so that no tape is needed to hold it in place. It’s a florist’s trick. “We are often having to transport arrangements and you don’t want anything to move,” she explained.

Cut the oasis so that it is flush with the top of the container. To complete the arrangement you will need a pair of secateurs or florist’s scissors, a potato peeling knife and thin wire.

Janine’s top tip is to constantly rotate your arrangement while working on it so that it looks pleasing from all sides.

“You could also put a candle into the centre to make it even more Christmassy,” she said.

Her arrangement could have been made entirely from ‘found’ items from a garden and baubles from a previous Christmas. Buying a succulent and a couple of roses, however, would cost around £5. But to buy the arrangement ready made would be more like £30.

Janine, who ran The Greenhouse from premises in Lindley for many years before giving it up to work from her home in Bradley, is now keen to pass on her skills and knowledge.

In her new shop, which has a classroom in the basement, she’s running a series of Christmas workshops, starting this week, covering everything from garland-making to table centrepieces. She’s hoping that in the future she will be able to offer courses leading to qualifications.

If you’d like to know more about her classes check out