Rebecca Smith - Garden design & consultancy

Wreath Making at West Green House

I love a bit of wreath making. And I love a bit of garden visiting. So any chance to combine these two favourite activities with a chance to sit and have cake and tea with a great friend and go to a bit of Christmas Fair to boot gets high marks in my book. 

Yesterday I headed to West Green House in West Green, Hartley Wintney, Hampshire with my friend Angela for a day out of our respective offices to create our Christmas wreaths.

Through the gates

Through the gates marked 'Private' and into the wreath making workshop...

The morning was coffee and a demonstration about making our wreaths. We were using a wire frame and adding a base of moss, not the usual Oasis base I have used before.

To buy a package of 20 8-inch floristry rings try Floristry Supplies in Aldershot. 

Using twine to tie moss to frame

Grab some moss, make a sausage and tie it to the frame tightly. Repeat!

Moss covered frame

Once the frame is covered, give the straggly bits a haircut. We were then shown how to create a lush wreath brimming with greenery freshly cut from the garden that day. All was solid green with the exception of a variegated holly and a variegated laurel which is only allowed to stay because it adds so much to the wreaths!

And then there was lunch in the tea shop. I went for the spiced parsnip and apple soup and was happy with my choice. There was also pudding! 

eton mess of sorts


After lunch came the wander through the Christmas Fair and the gardens. 

Christmas Fair at West Green House


The Christmas Fair is very much aimed at gardeners. Lots of cyclamen, little urns, soaps, candles, bulbs, pots and garden nice things. I came away with an urn which I think will look great planted with succulents...

Christmas Fair at West Green House



And a wander in the gardens...

The beauty of the gardens is that they are very structured and therefore as lovely in winter as in the summer months. The backbone of buxus hedge framework continues through many parts of the garden and keeps that essential interest going when the beds are bare in winter. I find there is something very pleasing about a good buxus hedge and topiary which has been tightly clipped. 

Courtyard Garden at West Green House

Buxus twists

More buxus

Through a gateway framed with a huge wisteria and into the Walled Garden. 

Walled Garden


And then back to the wreath making workshop...

The gardeners had cut armloads of fresh yew, mature ivy complete with berries, bay and laurel in the garden which we used to form our wreaths. There was some variegated holly for highlights and lots of cinnanmon sticks broughtback from Damascus by Marylyn Abbott. We also learned how to tie a bow and to wire a pinecone so that it will not fall out. Life skills. 

greenery for wreaths

more making

By the way... this was not a room for fair-weather wreath makers. Being warmly dressed is very important here!

Angela working hard

My nearly finished wreath. I added golden baubles once I returned home for a bit of colour. 


Then my day ended with tea and cake back in the tea shop (not part of the workshop day). Stollen is a fine thing and it is a good thing it is only available at Christmas time because I love it. 

Cakes and lovely things


Tea Shop

Tea Shop

A very brief history of the house:

West Green House is owned by the National Trust and leased by garden designer and writer Marylyn Abbott. The house was built about 1720 by General Harry Hawley and saw a series of owners before being given to the National Trust in 1957 by Sir Victor Sassoon who had bought the house for Evelyn, Dowager Duchess of Wellington. The first tenant of the house under the National Trust was Lord Alistair McAlpine who engaged architect Quinlin Terry to design the collection of garden ornaments and buildings. In 1990, the IRA detonated a bomb in the forecourt of the house, causing extensive damage. The National Trust decided to restore the fabric of the building and find a tenant who would complete the internal repairs necessary. In 1993 Marylyn Abbott took a 99 year lease on the building and started the restoration of the house and gardens.




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