We’re almost out of winter wreaths for Christmas 2009. Although it’s a relief to think we are one step closer to putting our feet up, we’ll both miss the days spent twining willow into bases, gathering materials and then concocting individual wreaths to sell to friends, family and through various Christmas markets. (One of our favourite markets is the Yalding Yuletide Market, where Auntie Mary inevitably does a roaring trade in mulled pear juice, mistletoe and walnuts)
Last year we used a lot of fir cones, gathered from various forests in Kent, as well as teasels and berries. This year our wreaths look rather different. We’ve used fewer cones, plenty of lovely teasels, a little wool from my mum’s sheep as well as the piece de resistance – hops from Little Scotney Farm, near Lamberhurst.
If we haven’t mentioned Little Scotney Farm before, then we should have. It is one of the few remaining hop farms (made up of hop gardens) which still uses a traditional oast house for drying. Once the hops have been dried, many of them go to the Westerham Brewery to be made into Little Scotney Ale. Might have to get some of that for Christmas…
Anyway, the number of people who have remarked on the hops – and stopped to sniff the wreaths – shows the nostalgia associated with this plant. It’s truly a symbol of the Garden of England – Kent and Sussex – as well as a poignant reminder of an historic industry and ‘hopping’ culture.
Hopefully people will enjoy the various elements entwined in their wreath – and if they want to know more, it’s all listed on the label.
Merry Christmas, from Jen and Bek… It looks like 2010 is going to be pretty lively!