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Thursday, 13 December 2012

Lovely Day Out ......

Hallo  again everyone.  Yesterday was another beautiful, cold, crisp, sunny day, so my friend and I decided to drive just over the border into Cornwall to visit a beautiful old house, called Cotehele, which is owned by The National Trust. 
As transformations go, few are more breathtaking than the decoration of the Great Hall at Cotehele, a National Trust property near Plymouth. Every December a huge garland, made almost entirely of dried flowers, is hung from the vast roof.  Apparently, over 30,000 flowers are used in the making of the swag.
Smelling of freshly cut hay it breathes life into the usually spartan medieval building. Beneath the brilliant display lies a length of ordinary rope that spends the rest of the year neatly coiled behind the office door of head gardener John Lanyon.
The 60ft garland is a year in the making. Seed is ordered the previous December and sown in early spring. Seedlings are pricked out into individual plant cells to minimise root disturbance, grown on and hardened off in frames before being planted in the cut flower garden from late April.
The flowers are cut and gathered as they appear, then strung upside-down in small bunches in the loft above the potting shed to dry.
It takes three people about a week to make the garland, using 40 barrow-loads of pittosporum - six bushes in all. Starting at the end of November, 12in-long sprigs of "pittos" are bunched together and fixed to the rope with metal ties.
 Gradually an enormous green caterpillar, about 2ft across and 60ft long, is brought to life. John then commandeers as many helpers as he can to lift it into position with the aid of ladders and scaffolding.
Decorating the garland is straightforward, though time-consuming. Flowers such as limonium, which makes up the bulk of the display, are pushed into the leafy framework. Next bracteantha, rhodanthe and gypsophila are added.
The long pink tassles of Psylliostachys suworowii look particularly effective dripping from the bottom of the swag, while the silver discs of honesty light up the top. Three days later the metamorphosis is complete.
The garland is seen as a major part of Cotehele's local appeal, and producing enough flowers for it is a huge responsibility, particularly given that many of its key components dislike the damp Cornish growing conditions.
"When I first started I used to find the whole process quite nerve-wracking," says John, who has been head gardener for five years. "But I now have a very good team that understands exactly why and what we are doing."
Each season the garland design and flowers change slightly and this year the predominant colour is pink. It is a triumph, and what better way to mark the end of one growing year and welcome in the next.  Here are a few photos that I took for you to have a peek at.

They also have a wonderful Gallery beside the house, which is home to wonderful displays by local artists.  Again, here are a few photos.

“Have nothing in your house you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
William Morris
"Ordinary riches can be stolen; real riches cannot. In your soul are infinitely precious things that cannot be taken from you".



Unknown said...

What a beautiful post Diane, I love the decorations.
Today we celebrate Lucia in Sweden, and luckily I could watch the TV broadcast on line this morning, a lovely start of the day.
The weather is cold and crisp over here also, and I like it very much. Enjoy your day and stay warm.
Big hugs xx

Linda O'Connell said...

That garland is breathtaking. I can only imagine touring such a beautiful place. How fun! Thanks for taking us along.

Shady Del Knight said...

Hallo, dear Thisisme! Oh how lovely a place it is! I wish I could have strolled those grounds with you, seen the mammoth garland up close, breathed the aroma of those dried flowers and examined the artwork and objects inside. I can't help thinking how our old friend Desiree would also love to visit that majestic estate. Miss her. I'm so happy to know you are getting your fair share of sunshine even though it waited till December to arrive in your region. I hope you are feeling well and are in fine spirits, dear friend Thisisme!

Shelly said...

Just stunning! I loved learning how they do it and then seeing the lovely pictures was the cherry on top.

How wonderful that you have such amazing places close by to visit and enjoy. About the oldest manmade structure around here is only 125 years old or so. I LOVE history.

Unknown said...

Dear Diane, you write so wonderfully and I just deepened my appreciation for English gardeners like you, who know the Latin names of the flowers and plants. Reading this post was educational and so very interesting. I would have loved to see this garland in person, but your photographs are perfect! The hands that crafted that beautiful garden must have been very patient and careful. In my haste and impatience for getting through my busy day, I often forget that beauty and value is created over a longer period of time. Thank you for sharing a part of England that I might have never known existed.

Unknown said...

I meant to write "the hands that crafted that beautiful garland"

orchid0324 said...

Dearest Diane,
Wow, Cotehele owned by national trust is so gorgeous and breathtaking♡♡♡
I DO admire the different type of marvelous structure from ours!!! And enjoyed the beautiful English garden and inside through your pictures☆☆☆
Happy for your "Lovely Day Out".
Sending you lots of love and hugs from Japan, xoxo Miyako*

LindyLouMac said...

I am always quoting that William morris quote! A great virtual trip out with you thanks Diane.

colenic said...

Just lovely...thank you so much for sharing pictures. I was over in Europe a few years ago (not England but Germany) and it was fabulous to see the older buildings decorated for the holidays. Beautiful writing as always!!

Duncan D. Horne - the Kuantan blogger said...

Lovely explanation Diane, and the property is very well kept. Nice quotes about home too!

Olive said...

That garland is something serious and it's beautiful.

Claudia Moser said...

Lovely pictures!

Sally Wessely said...

These photos are just beautiful! I'm so glad you took the time to have this "lovely day out." Thanks for sharing.

LV said...

Thank you for this grand tour of places I would never see otherwise. Very nice.

pembrokeshire lass said...

Wow that's absolutely incredible. How stunning.....I'm running out of ways to describe it and what an experience to actually be there and smell it. Your photos are excellent but....I bet, if you are like me, you can't quite capture what your eyes see! Thanks so much for going and sharing it with us. Joan

Darlene said...

That looks like an awesome place to visit. I can't imagine all the time, planning, and work that goes into making the garland.

Dianne said...

Oh! so English ... and it looks a treat dressed up for Christmas. I'm wondering if you might have a white Christmas wouldn't that be wonderful!j

All Thing French
Adelaide and Beyond

Pearson Report said...

What a beautiful outing, Diane. One day I will make a trip to your neck of the planet to enjoy some of these wonders.

I have enjoyed reading this post as it was extremely often wonders about the "makings" of things arounds us. So thank you for sharing.

Merry Christmas to you and your family,

Caramella said...

Beautiful place!