Creating the Christmas garland at Cotehele

Picking dried flowers in preparation for the garland

The yuletide tradition of decking the Tudor Hall with a garland is a relatively recent one. Begun in the 1950s, the Christmas flower garland is now firmly established as one of Cotehele’s annual highlights.

 

Volunteers stripping the Christmas garland flowers at Cotehele
Volunteers strip the leaves from Christmas garland flowers at Cotehele, Cornwall
Volunteers stripping the Christmas garland flowers at Cotehele

Building starts in November

In early November the gardeners start with a 60ft-long piece of rope, which serves as the core and is designed to drape twice in the 44ft-long hall. They attach small bunches of Pittosporum (foliage) to the rope with potato metal wire sack ties, incrementally covering the entire rope. This gives the framework to which they will add the dried flowers.

They set up a scaffold in the Great Hall, hang the green swag and are ready to add the colour. Another 40ft-long garland frames the door on the east end.

What's the garland going to look like this year?
Volunteers carrying the green base for the garland into the Hall at Cotehele, Cornwall
What's the garland going to look like this year?

Adding the flowers

The gardeners insert the flowers one by one into the Pittosporum. The number and exact selection of flowers varies from year to year and depends on the weather and other environmental factors. This year there are 35,770 individual stems.

A young visitor admires the Christmas garland flowers at Cotehele
A young visitor delights in the flowers that are used in the Christmas flower garland at Cotehele, Cornwall
A young visitor admires the Christmas garland flowers at Cotehele

Volunteers to the rescue

Constructing the garland takes about 10 days including gathering and preparing the Pittosporum, but there are many more hours planning. The total number of hours spent preparing for and making the garland roughly equates to one full-time person every year.

" We’re so grateful to our volunteers. Without them, building the garland wouldn’t be possible. It's a real labour of love."
- Dave Bouch, Head Gardener

Remembering summer

The winter garland marks the end of the growing year and also reminds us of the glories of the summer months. Making the garland is a significant part of the Cotehele gardening team's calendar.

The finished garland is on display from Saturday 16 November 2019.

You can find out more about the creation of the garland and see some photos from previous years in the Breakfast Room exhibtion in the house this winter.