The Christmas garland at Cotehele
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.
60th anniversary of the Christmas garland at Cotehele
When the residents of Cotehele first hung a modest, floral, Christmas display in the Tudor Hall six decades ago, little did they know how their simple decoration would turn into the magnificent garland it is today.
This year we’re very excited to celebrate the 60th anniversary of this 60ft tradition. To make it extra special, all year long the gardeners have been sowing secret plans to give it a new look and we're all waiting with anticipation to see what it will look like.
Every petal home-grown
All of the flowers in the garland are grown at Cotehele from seed and planted in the Cut Flower Garden. The gardeners pick them daily during the summer, strip their leaves and carefully hang them in the potting shed to dry.
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, hang the green swag and are ready to add the colour.
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 as a special tribute to the 60th anniversary of the garland the gardeners are planning to give it a new look with a new selection of flowers. The garland will be unveiled in November.
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."
One of the most time-consuming elements in the garland-preparation process is stripping the leaves from each individual stem, Clean stems enable the flower to be pushed easily into the Pittosporum. Typically, the gardeners would like about 30,000 flowers in the garland.
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. This year the team will build the garland between 1 – 11 November, 11am-4pm, and you are welcome to watch. The completed garland will be on display daily between 12 November and 31 December (closed Christmas and Boxing Day).