The Season of Wreathes

December 3, 2014 CW wreathes 015

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It is December in Williamsburg, and wreathes are appearing on front doors everywhere.

I love early December when it is still warm enough to walk around the colonial area and enjoy these unusual and beautiful decorations.

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December 3, 2014 CW wreathes 016

Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

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Known as “della Robbia,” these unique decorations are made from natural, easily accessible materials which would have been available to the residents of Williamsburg during the 18th Century.

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December 3, 2014 CW wreathes 065

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These wreathes, garlands and sprays reflect the evergreens and berries available in our Virginia woods, shells collected from the James River and Chesapeake Bay, feathers from local birds, dried flowers and pods grown in Colonial gardens, and the many fruits and vegetables either imported from the Caribbean colonies, or grown locally.

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Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

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No, we don’t grow pineapples, lemons and oranges in Virginia.  But these exotic fruits were readily available to the colonists through trade with the rest of the British Empire.

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Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

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The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation produces all of the wreathes and decorations used on their buildings each December.

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December 3, 2014 CW wreathes 119

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It is a huge undertaking for their staff each year, and draws visitors from across the United States and around the world.

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Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

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I was in good company with lots of other photographers as I took photos on the eastern end of things, near the Colonial Capitol, yesterday.

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December 3, 2014 CW wreathes 130

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We’ll make another trek to capture the decorations on the western end of Duke of Gloucester Street, near The College of William and Mary, one day soon.

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December 3, 2014 CW wreathes 145

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Some of my companion photographers planned to use their photos to produce their own Christmas cards.  Others just wanted souvenirs.

I’ll share photos with you over several posts during December.

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I’ve made the first of my own wreathes for this year, in the della Robbia style, and they are hanging now at our neighborhood community center.

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I made this wreath on Saturday.

I made this wreath on Saturday.

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These are made on purchased straw wreath forms.  I begin with a base of Magnolia leaves, then add mixed bunches of evergreen which includes Cedar, Rosemary and Lavender  from our garden, and trimmings from the Christmas tree we purchased on Saturday.  Step by step instructions, with photos, may be found here….

These wreathes are trimmed with pine cones collected near College Creek on Saturday afternoon, Red Delicious apples, and some feathers from the craft store.

I hope you’ll construct some beautiful wreathes of your own this year, using whatever materials you can collect locally.

Colonial Williamsburg 2014

Colonial Williamsburg 2014

Please send me photos of your creations (by December 13)  to include in a round-up post later this month.  I can’t wait to see what you come up with! 

If you blog, please send a ping back and I’ll include a link to your post from mine.

This is a tiny little rebellion against Christmas “Made in China.”  Let’s make our own Christmas cheer, from the materials close at hand, just as our grandparents did.

It is a lot more interesting, and a lot more fun!

 

Colonial Williamsburg 2014

Colonial Williamsburg 2014

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

Holiday Wreath Challenge 2014

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About woodlandgnome

Lifelong teacher and gardener.

7 responses to “The Season of Wreathes

  1. Lovely, thanks for sharing. I spy some Hops! – I live in Kent UK where they have been grown traditionally. We decorate the inside of our pubs with them but they smell so wonderful every house should have some!

    • Dear Mandy…. Thank you! I thought those must be hops but wasn’t positive. What a neat idea to use them as decoration inside. Yes, another wonderfully fragrant plant material for inside decorations. I wouldn’t even know where to find them, other than mail-order, though I’ve heard they are easy to grow. Thank you for stopping by Forest Garden today, Mandy. Best wishes, WG

  2. Beautiful collection of wreathes, WG. I’m afraid I’m not very crafty. My attempts at wreathes in the past all came out looking like my 5-year-old granddaughter put them together. What a mess! lol! Now that I think about, though, I would love anything she put together no matter how messy. Maybe I should have her make one for me. 😀

    • 😉 Great idea! My sister in law just told me she is making a “rag wreath” from old blue jeans…. there may be something there that your granddaughter would enjoy trying, with a little help 😉 So glad you enjoyed the wreathes 😉 Best wishes, WG

  3. Wow, they sure outdo themselves in Williamsburg, but as you said it is a huge draw for them. They seem to get better every year! Great photos, almost as good as being there myself!
    I read somewhere that in colonial times there wasn’t so much decorating at Christmas as it was a quietly observed Christian holiday and decorating was connected to paganism. It was the Victorian era that ushered in the lavish decorations, including the Christmas tree that originated in Germany. Commercial interest in the holiday began in earnest about that time with the rise of the middle class, with the 20th century ramping up to the extravagance we witness today. I would like to see scaling back to more sensible consumption and your post definitely promotes home-grown decoration. 🙂 I look forward to seeing what your Wreath Challenge brings. I hope to finish my own tomorrow and will post soon!

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