The outdoor classroom

Construct your own Christmas tree with Abbie and Camilla Jury.

1. Inspired by a tree she saw in London, presumably made with pampas plumes, Camilla fancied trying an alternative to the traditional pine branch or tacky tinsel. As pampas is now banned in this country, we used toetoe plumes. Gathering the toetoe was the most difficult part of construction, especially with all the recent rain. You need a lot of them, depending on the size of your construction.

2. We were fortunate to be given a permanent metal base in the shape of a cone, but you could construct your own from bamboo or a similar material. It needs to be fairly stable to work with easily. You need five or six vertical struts in order to achieve a circular effect. Do not make it too wide if it needs to fit through a conventional door to get it inside when finished.

3. We wove additional horizontal supports into the frame at 20cm intervals using flexible lengths of old grapevine prunings.

4. Starting from the base, tie groups of about three toetoe plumes at a time to the bottom horizontal support, forming the bottom layer of the skirt. It needs to be sufficiently dense not to see through. We tied firmly with neutral coloured wool, securing the plumes to the frame and the rings of grapevine.

5. Layer additional skirts on top. Trim the surplus stems of each layer. It took us four layers to reach the top.

6. When it came to decorations, we decided less was more and just adorned our tree with a Trade Aid angel, the historic Jury family Christmas lights (which need rewiring each year to work) and the red and silver Spotlight reindeer (known here as Kevin and Sharon) at the base.

Taranaki Daily News