Deck the halls with boughs of all sorts…

I’m starting to feel just a little bit Christmassy now…. and that’s due in part to Helen Reeley’s garland-making workshop at the weekend.  I’m not feeling particular crafty (although I never do), but I am feeling a bit more festive – and quite proud of myself.  It might not have been perfect, my garland, but it was all my own work.

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That’s my one — in progress. And yes, it does look like a moustache. Thank you for noticing.

Helen Reeley, of Reeley Landscapes, runs garden school workshops at various points throughout the year – whether it’s willow wreaths, potting on seedlings, caring for your blooms, you name it.  And when she suggested I head along to her Christmas garland workshop, I thought ‘why not?’  Helen is lovely, and if anyone was going to make me feel ok about my lack of creative flair, she was exactly the woman for the job.  And she promised me coffee and mince pies.  (I’m so easy…)

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Can you see me? Top left, looking puzzled. Or, as I prefer to call it, *pensive.* (Photo: Helen Reeley)

I will admit to a slight degree of trepidation when I arrived.  There were piles of greenery everywhere – some still wet from having been picked that morning.  (Everything Helen uses — everything apart from the ribbon — is not only sourced locally but can get chucked in the compost come New Year.) It was a Sunday morning (never my best time, ever).  And there were words like ‘swag’ and ‘posy’ being tossed around.

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(Photo: Helen Reeley)

But I had the best morning, galumphing around outside my comfort zone.  I put together a moustache-shaped garland (some might call it a swag…) that, although it wasn’t picture-perfect (definitely my bad), will be gracing our outdoors this festive season and, if I say so myself, looks all right.

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Mine, in two pieces, with the ribbon that will provide the final touch once Mr C can get up the ladder to hang it up properly. Me, looking astonished. (Photo: Helen Reeley)

The workshops I went to was held at Haresfoot Brewery in Berkhamsted, but the ones next week are at Frithsden Vineyard – which is the venue for lots of Helen’s summer classes, too.  And being offered mulled wine halfway through added to the whole festive feel.

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Not mine, but that of someone who knew what she was doing… (Photo: Helen Reeley)

Helen’s workshops book up fast – her last wreath-making one was packed (and quite raucous, by all accounts), and you’ll have a blast.  She’s the most patient and encouraging of teachers – and she certainly needed to be with me – and knows her onions.  Not that there were onions in my garland, obviously.  There was yew and dried hydrangeas, ivy flowers and teazles, that sort of thing.  And some gorgeous pale green sparkly ribbon.

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It’s not up outside yet.  It’s too flippin’ windy to risk Mr C going up a ladder to hang it where I’d like it to go.  But it’s waiting patiently in the shed.  And I’m waiting, not so patiently, indoors.

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Someone else made this one, too. In what felt like next to no time.

There are places still on Helen’s two workshops next weekend up at Frithsden Vineyards — one for willow wreaths and one for garlands — but I wouldn’t leave it too long to book.  And I have to say, it’s a great way to while away a morning and come home with something lovely to get your festive season off to an ‘I-made-that’ start.

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside - Hertfordshire