January 27, 2016

Cotehele Visit – Floral Garland And A Tudor Manor

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WORDS: Kathryn Cronin PHOTOS: Ricky Bache
Icried at Cotehele. Literally stood there and cried at that beyond beautiful dried floral garland that looped and looped under the eaves of its’ tudor manor hall. I confess I am an emotional girl but I defy anyone to walk into that hall and not be moved by the sheer creative force that is that garland in all its glorious movement and colour.

A piece of the mechanics that holds this huge and heavy creation was on display. Nothing sophisticated. Think really thick rope and heavy gauge hooked wires. These are what hold up this giant. Somehow in that setting it looked more like it had come from the manors medieval touture chamber than anything floral. Mind you, it takes 2 and half trees of pittosporum to make the base so the mechanics need to be robust.

A stunning swag of colour and movement that I can barely take my eyes off.

I am drawn to the warm cracking orange light glowing from the huge stone fireplace in the corner. I notice other fabulous floral decorations around the walls but quite honestly although they are stunning, the garland steals the show.

I am told each year the floral garland is subtly different, influenced by what has grown well that season. Pale blue clay stone pots with labels list this years contributors. Helichrysum and statice make up the mix of course but hares tail and honesty provide an ethereal dimension and pink limonium provides the most amazing movement. Strawflower adds a pop of bright yellow colour that goes unexpectantly well with the pretty pink limonium. The overall effect is a stunning swag of colour and movement that I can barely take my eyes off.

Before the floral garland is even made though, their other consideration is of course the ability to dry the material. One lovely lady who helps out mentioned to me that when they run of out space, it is out with the laundry as everyone fills their airing cupboards with flowers and foliage to ensure they have enough dried plant material to make the garland. I imagine their disgruntled other half wandering around in damp clothes but dare not mention it for fear it being too close to the truth.

Luckily we were in Cornwall and Cotehele was within striking distance of a visit. Even then though, it was a bit of a detour that meant a dark late return North. Rather generously, my darling other half conceded that missing a visit to arrive home in the light would have been a missed opportunity indeed. A tradition since the 50s, its splendour is on display in December alone. All I can say is that it is worth every mile out of your way.

I am now plotting an annual pilgrimage although amazing I am sure it will be, I will treasure the memory of the first time I ever saw it.

More details of the Cotehele christmas floral garland can be found on the National Trust site here. I invite you to explore the wonderful detail in the garland by clicking on some of the images in the lightbox gallery above.

Read more from Fierceblooms on the floristry blog.

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