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Q&A with the Cotehele team about 2018’s 60ft Christmas Garland!

Every year, Cotehele in Cornwall create a 60ft long Christmas garland, YES 60 FOOT! We ask the experts behind the masterpiece a few questions on what to expect this year and just how long does it take to make?

See what The Cotehele team said below!

2015 Cotehele Garland
2015 Cotehele Garland – Image: ©Steven Haywood

What was the inspiration behind this year’s Cotehele Christmas garland?

This year we’re making a Commemoration Garland to remember the centenary of the end of the First World War. For the past four years at Cotehele we’ve exhibited artefacts and memories of the war from the local community and this garland will mark the end of this period of exhibitions. We’ve been growing flowers in red, white and blue for the cut flower garland to symbolise the flags people waved at Armistice and we’re working alongside West Country artist Dominique Coiffait, who’s creating an artwork to surround the walls of the Great Hall with prints of Cotehele’s seasonal flowers, foliage and wildlife and interwoven in this will be reproductions of First World War photographs and postcards from the exhibitions. As a whole the installations in the Hall will represent the ebb and flow of life and the seasons and remember the time of the war from the perspective of those who left to fight and those who remained behind. The Commemoration Garland will be on display from 10 November 2018 until 6 January 2019, except Christmas and Boxing Day.

Image: ©Steven Haywood

How many flowers does it take to build the garland?

We usually aim for around 34,000 flowers each year, but this can vary because of growing conditions – this year’s changeable extremes of weather has been a worry but we’re actually ahead of target after the hot summer.

How long does it all take to put together?

The garland is a year round process for the team, with sowing seeds, planting out seedlings, tending and cutting, stripping and drying and then the construction and deconstruction of the garland. We usually allow two weeks for the construction to take place and we carry our the work in front of visitors, so anyone coming along from October 29 this year can see us at work and even have a go themselves!

Cutting our prints for the Commemoration Garland artwork
Cutting our prints for the Commemoration Garland artwork. Image: ©Steven Haywood

What flowers will you be using this year?

Limonium sinuatum Sunburst White
Xereanthemum lumina Double Mixed
Acroclinum roseum Double Giant Flowered Mixed
Limonium sinuatum Sunburst Dark Blue
Limonium sinuatum Blue River
Limonium suworowii
Lonas inodora
Helipterum roseum ‘Pierrot’
Helipterum rosem ‘Goliath Rose-Red’
Lagurus ovatus
Limonium sinuatum ‘Purple Attraction’
Ammi majus ‘Queen of Africa’
Celosia cristata ‘Fire Chief’
Helichrysum bracteatum ‘Scarlet’
Helichrysum bracteautm ‘Bright Rose’
Helichrysum bracteatum ‘White’
Helichrysum bracteatum monstrosum Mixed

Image: ©Steven Haywood

How many staff and volunteers does it take to put together and manage?

The whole garden team will be involved when it comes to garland building, so over the 2 week build time over 30 staff and volunteers will be involved

How could we create a mini version for our homes?

A garland can come in many shapes and forms, from holly and conifers to one like ours with over 30,000 dried flowers. We do have for sale a small pack of seeds available with a range of flowers to grow your own garland flowers at home, could this be the perfect stocking filler?

Preparing cotehele flowers
Image: ©Steven Haywood

Lastly what more can we expect at Cotehele this festive season?

There’s lots to do at Cotehele over the festive period. As well as the Commemoration Garland and artwork, we have Armistice Beacon lighting ; choirs from all over the south-west singing in the Great Hall; garland dinners; children’s Christmas crafts and a winter trail; wassailing; a new exhibition in the Gallery called ‘Deck the Halls’; wreathmaking workshops; Mother and Father Christmas and a winter craft fair.  Do check out our website for more details: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/cotehele

Wassail - Dec 2016
Image: ©John Parker

So there you have it! it takes roughly 34,000 flowers to make the Cotehele Garland! We struggle to grow one let alone 34,000!

Thanks so much to The National Trust and the Cotehele team for their time and for sharing! Will you be attending Cotehele this Christmas?

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