Make a well dressing

The custom of making well dressings comes from Derbyshire, where communities create amazing pictures using natural materials and clay in celebration of water and springs. Make your own picture in the tradition of well dressings.

Make a well dressing

What you'll need

  • A tennis size ball of clay for a small picture

  • An old pencil and piece of paper

  • Collection of petals, leaves and natural materials that have fallen off the plants

  • Rolling pin

  • Ruler

  • Small square wooden board

What to do

  1. Soak the wooden board in a bucket of cold water overnight. This will help to keep the clay damp and stick to the board.

  2. Make sure you have protected the surface you are working on. On the wet board, roll out the clay using the rolling pin in to a small square shape. Use the ruler to measure the sides so they are even and trim the excess clay.

  3. Draw a square the same size on the piece of paper. Draw your design in the paper square. Place your design on top of the clay square and use your pencil to make prick marks through the paper on to the clay. Using the pencil join up your marks so you can see your design.

  4. Start at the bottom of your picture and stick the petals and natural materials in horizontal lines carefully in to the clay square. Place the next row above so that it overlaps, like roof tiles. Turn the board round as you work so you don’t damage the petals you have already placed.

  5. Place your board in the garden for everyone to see, well dressings can last a week before the petals and leaves might start to fade.

Get involved

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.