My daughter instructed me that if you ever have any other events, we have to go. She loved it! – Claire, parent, Carols in the Wildlife Garden
Last Sunday, folk musician and fellow early years music specialist, Sarah Allen, and I ran our annual Carols in the Wildlife Garden event at the Mother Goose Wildlife Garden in Camberwell, South London.
We came prepared – I had four layers on (including a thermal vest) and Sarah had five – but it was actually a mild day and we found ourselves stripping off hats and scarves as we sang festive songs and made Christmas wreaths with families and members of the local community.
There’s something very special about singing while you work.
I remember attending a performance of Caryl Churchill’s Fen as a student in the 80s. It’s set in the East of England and is about women who work the land, picking stones from the fields, digging potatoes and bagging onions.
Afterwards, Caryl, who had been in the audience, praised the production but raised one concern: that the actors stopped working to talk, which would never happen – there wouldn’t be time. Caryl felt strongly that talking as they worked would create an intimacy and sense of fellowship between the women, allowing them to share thoughts and feelings they might not otherwise have done.
I’ve always remembered this because it made me realise that people are sometimes freer to express themselves if they are performing a task – whether that be bagging potatoes or making Christmas wreaths. So that’s what we did last Sunday, courtesy of wildlife gardener and co-host, Di Wallace, who brought sackfuls of Winter foliage, willow wreath bases, secateurs, wire, ribbon and all manner of berries and pine cones for people to get creative with.
And over 80 people came along – not all at once, of course, but in a steady trickle over the four hours we were there.
Sarah and I performed a host of Christmas carols and festive songs – including Jingle Bells, Let It Snow, Winter Wonderland, The Holly and the Ivy, Oh Christmas Tree, Mary’s Boy Child and Jingle Bell Rock – and people sang as they worked.
In another part of the garden, Di, nursery owner, Curtis, and our wonderful volunteer, Dylan, served mince pies and mulled drinks warmed over the fire. People wandered between the two areas, children ran free and there was a lovely festive atmosphere.
Events like this remind me why I became a community musician. Bringing people of all ages together to sing and make things in a beautful natural setting scores pretty highly in the work satisfaction stakes and it’s a great way to welcome in the festive season!
So next time you fancy making a wreath while singing carols in a wildlife garden, check us out. We’re here every year 🙂
Header photo: Kitty and Sarah performing festive songs at Carols in the Wildlife Garden