A festive floral extravaganza at Arley Hall

A festive floral extravaganza at Arley Hall means that Lord and Lady Ashbrook are wishing visitors a 'Merry Christmas' in fine style

One of Cheshire’s finest country homes will be transformed into a festive floral work of art this Christmas.

Florists from across the north west will be decorating Arley Hall, near Knutsford, with a thousand flowers in time for the venue’s Christmas celebrations.

More than half a dozen florists or teams will be decorating everything from the chapel to the drawing room, dining hall and gallery.

Also among those transforming the Victorian house will be 22 floristry students from The Manchester College.

They have photographed and measured Arley Hall’s library before returning to their Northenden Campus where they will construct their decorations and keep them in a cooler so they are fresh once displayed.

‘As much time goes into the preparation as the construction,’ said tutor Jane Fraser. ‘All of the materials we are using are going to be collected from the grounds at Arley as they would have been in the Victorian times.’Every design in the students’ display will be as authentic as possible.

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String will be used instead of wire and moss instead of the green foam used by florists today.

Colours will be provided by tartan – which became popular under Queen Victoria – and dried fruit including apples, oranges and pomegranates.

The students, who are all taking Level 2 Floristry City and Guilds, have surveyed the grounds around Arley Hall to see what materials are available.

Arley’s gardeners have been given a list of requirements for the displays and will be collecting everything from moss to holly.

‘The gardeners used to collect the materials and then do the displays, but the Victorians started to employ professional florists,’ said Jane.

“In the Victorian era there was a lot of competition and saying you had a florist was another way to show off.’

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