The holly and the ivy - Christmas in the gardens at Polesden Lacey

Polesden Lacey in the snow with holly in the foreground

It’s not just the mansion that comes alive with festive fun during Christmas at Polesden Lacey. Here in the garden we still maintain the Edwardian tradition of creating a giant garland to adorn our historic potting shed.

The garden team will spend time adorning a large thick piece of rope with masses of seasonal foliage, berries, twigs and cones.  The likes of ivy, holly, moss and conifer fronds will be wired to the rope to create a ‘living’ decoration to hang from the brick outbuildings near the vegetable garden.
The term ‘garland’ came into general use during the Middle Ages but the custom of twining plant parts together in a decorative manner actually goes back much further than that.  The process really came into popularity during the 17th century and continued through the Victorian and Edwardian periods right up to the present day.  Although garlands can of course be made at any time of the year, it is during the festive season that it really caught on.
View along the Long Walk
A bush of holly on the long walk at Polesden Lacey
View along the Long Walk
The words to the traditional English folk Christmas carol ‘The Holly and the Ivy’ are well represented all over the garden here at Polesden Lacey.  You’ll see holly trees laden with berries in numerous spots, particularly along the impressive Long Walk, as well as a variety of ivy plants covering walls such as in Mrs Greville’s rose garden.  If you’re very lucky you may even spot some mistletoe high in the trees of the informal gardens to the east of the house too.
Elsewhere in the grounds it is the winter garden found near the holiday cottage that is really stealing the show at this time of year.  Designed by Graham Stuart Thomas in the 1960s, it was the sole focus for his book ‘Colour In The Winter Garden’.  It is here that, amongst many other winter gems, you’ll be able to enjoy both scented Christmas Box shrubs (Sarcococca) and Christmas Rose (or Hellebores as they’re more commonly known) flowers bursting through the soil in shades of pink and white.
So whether you’re enjoying a bracing winter stroll or admiring the horticultural delights here at Polesden Lacey, the garden has plenty to offer at Christmas and throughout the whole of the year.