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Festive decor goes green

Written by senior gardener Franziska.

From November – December our gardeners and our wonderful volunteers prepare the greenery for the Palace. From beautiful garlands such as the one in the great hall to gorgeous wreaths sold in the shop and even decorative extras for our creative workshops, it’s a busy time for the garden!

All our materials were cut, processed and stored away. We were cutting, drying and preserving all kinds of plant material for Christmas over the summer — chillies, apples and all types of flowers. We definitely made the most of summer’s heatwave to help us with the task!

Now, the time has arrived when we are very grateful for all our hard work and the harvesting and squirrelling of the garden’s summer bounty! Opening boxes of material still holding the scent and colours of summer, these plant-based materials are sustainable alternatives to decorating wreaths and our garlands.

We have been busy making wreath making for Christmas pre-orders. These are sure to find new homes and adorn many doors with some festive joy in the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham and beyond.  We’ve also been making more of our teas, seeds and herbal salt as they all make fabulous Christmas presents.

Bye-bye fake garlands, hello natural green gutters!

The Palace will shine again this year in all its Christmassy glory, just more sustainably. This year’s Christmas greenery is green! We have moved to an eco-way of dressing the Palace to create a festive atmosphere. Inspired by the sustainable foam-free movement of florists worldwide, the Palace invested in gutters. Gutters you may ask? Yes, these gutters are filled with responsibly sourced moss from Wales, or the odd patches of moss we find cleaning the roof of the walled garden outbuildings. This moss gives the Christmas greenery moisture, keeping it fresh for weeks. Covering moss filled gutters with chicken wire creates the ideal stable base to arrange greenery around fireplaces, or to adorn the Palace’s historic rooms. We can reuse the greenery bases each year, creating less waste overall by using less wire and materials.

We use as much as we can from the garden. Holly and ivy are two materials used in abundance to make all of our decorations. Historically, both of these plants are closely associated with Christmas festivities. With shiny green leaves and red berries, holly is a common Christmas decoration. Before the Victorian era, the term ‘Christmas tree’ referred to holly.

Here are the types of plant materials we are using in our decorations and wreaths:

  • lex aquifolium – holly (also called ’christmas holly’).
  • hedera helix – ivy
  • yew
  • cupressus – cypress
  • holm Oak – not from the 500-year-old specimen on our grounds!
  • cedrus, bracken, moss, euonymus,
  • branches with lichen
  • seedheads and grasses,
  • dried flowers and pine cones
  • rosehips
  • colourful vibrant vine leaves and dusky green Eucalyptus

When the season is over, we take down our decorations and compost as much as we can. This compost will help fertilise the garden beds and continue our mission of being as green as can be.

Come and see the festive greenery and decorations

Visit the Palace and its decorations for yourself! From Christmas tours to daily museum visits, be sure to visit before we close for the season on 19 December.