Sunday, 28 November 2010

Yesterday's workshop at the Zoo

We kicked off the season yesterday in sub-zero temperatures and even a sprinkling of snow at the Avon Gorge and Downs Wildlife Project at Bristol Zoo.  Mandy Leivers, the education officer, kindly hosted the greengarland workshop "Creating Christmas Wreaths", and we spent a lovely day making some really beautiful wreaths and walking on the Downs learning about the history and folklore that surrounds them.  Then we ate cake.   We even were lucky enough to get a visit from Santa's Elves on their way to the Winter Grotto at the Zoo.  They were much better looking than the greengarland Elves, and much better behaved...

This is the second year that greengarland have worked with the Project and we are very proud to be associated with them. The Avon Gorge and Downs Wildlife Project will be in its tenth year in 2011 and is a collaboration funded  by Bristol City Council, Bristol Zoo Gardens, Natural England, University of Bristol, Society of Merchant Venturers, the Downs Committee and the Bristol Conservation and Science Foundation, and work in partnership with the National Trust (phew). Their work celebrates the outstanding wildlife interests of the Avon Gorge and Downs and works to secure its future.

Mandy has inspired almost a whole generation of children (including mine who are now in their mid-teens) to appreciate and enjoy the diversity and uniqueness of the Downs.  My garden is full of insect hides and bird boxes that my boys have made on some of Mandy's courses when they were younger, and we have as a family spent many happy hours listening for birds, hugging trees, hunting for rare moths and identifying some of the unique species that grow there on the wide range of walks, talks and courses that they run all year round.  More details of their work can be found at

As last year, Mandy, Catherine and I were amazed at the standard of work produced and the variety of different wreaths created by everyone that attended. I have put photographs of their work up on Flickr for everyone to admire.
It really was a lovely day.  Thanks again to Mandy..... I even got to pay a visit to my very favourite tree. Here it is..

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

a transatlantic collaboration...

I had a message from Wendy in New Jersey today.  We have been sharing ideas for a while (it was Wendy who had the greengarland elves hand-stitching kumquats to wreaths last year).  We were working on some proto-types last week that sadly did not get further than the lab.     However, the gauntlet was thrown down again from her side of the pond and off I went into the dark today to collect materials for this little beauty.

Its about 15 cms across and has mini cinnamon sticks and dried orange segments, juniper, ivy and wrapped with a lovely textured burgungy ribbon given to me by Wendy when she came visiting earlier this year. She brought books, ribbons, lovely jelly and some bases that I have not seen around these parts, and we had a nice time chatting, shopping and  pootling around at the allotment. 

 It is more a Falstaff than a Titania.  Will be taking one of these along to my workshop on Saturday to get some feedback from the folk there.  I rather like it.  Thanks Wendy.  Happy Thanksgiving (here it's only Thursday...)      

Thursday, 18 November 2010

getting ready for the workshops...

...  Today I was following the tree surgeon, Luke Taylor and his team while he cut down a (very) large, overgrown eucalyptus tree and cut some hedges near here.  They were very kind, allowing me to follow them around like a little dog, taking choice bits of lovely fresh foliage and stuffing them in the boot of my car, while they swished around with their chainsaws.  It was a hard hat sort of a day...

I collected some lovely materials which we will be using at the greengarland wreathmaking workshops which begin on 27th November.  There are a few places left on the course on Saturday the 4th December at The University of Bristol Botanic Gardens.  For further information contact The Courses Administrator on 
or check out the link via  

Here's  one that I made with some of the foliage today.  Just a bit of string and some lovely eucalyptus. 

Thanks again to Luke.  No koala bears were harmed while making this wreath....



Saturday, 13 November 2010

thanks to you all...

..for braving the foul weather and falling masonry to drink, talk and shop with Gabriel, Jenny, Judith,  Liz and I on Thursday.
So now we are all stocked up with bling, baskets and cards, and our table decorations, garlands and wreaths are ordered to help us celebrate the Christmas season. 

This new design looks as though it is going to be this year's big seller.  The Orange and Cinnamon Wreath.  Smells lovely. .It's now just down to the greengarland elves (me..) to make them and deliver them to you all. Thanks again to everyone for attending, and for your orders -   and especially to Karen who ran the show for us.  Much appreciated.  Sue