A Fairytale Christmas

All is not as it seems in The Glasshouse at Wisley, with poinsettia trees, a pyramid of bromeliads and a garden shed that looks good enough to eat

Gingerbread house and bromeliad tree in The GlasshouseThis year Christmas started early in the Glasshouse, as Sandra took over the role of Mrs Christmas and held a brainstorming session last January with the whole Glasshouse team.

After much discussion and no small amount of biscuits, the team agreed on a fair tale theme, with candy canes and a gingerbread cottage. We came up with list of ideal plants and a schedule for propagation and ordering.

Poinsettias arrived as rooted cuttings in June and the Propagation Team used night interval lighting make the bracts turn red. A thousand bulbs of the early flowering, scented ‘paperwhite’ narcissi arrived in September, and a shed was acquired from the Plant Centre - which was then transformed with some commissioned artwork to make it look like a gingerbread house.

On the day of the set up, we called in our colleagues from all over the garden to help out. Getting the shed into place was only possible with a forklift truck and all of us helping. We had some eighties music to keep the mood up and a cherry picker to help get to the top of the poinsettia tree.

Seasonal cheer

We used bright, cheerfully-coloured plants, such as Cyclamen, Solanum and Kalanchoe (flaming Katy), to give the impression of a magical land in a storybook. We also had our usual poinsettia trees (Euphorbia pulcherrima) but this year we went one better with an extra large tree that we struggled to get through the door! Our bromeliad expert Greg, made a special brom pyramid with vriessias and tillandsias wired into a chicken wire frame.

Gingerbread house in The Glasshouse at WisleyHopefully you think that the finished house is one where Mr and Mrs Gingerbread would be happy to live - they certainly look at home!

To add to the fun (and chaos) we have also invited local school children to decorate Christmas trees with fairytale themes. These are kept in the corridor, which opened on the 8 December.

Sandra and her paperwhite narcissiSee also


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