3x3x3

Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

.

Have you noticed that art, like music, is mostly mathematical? 

As you scratch even a tiny bit below the surface of either discipline, you find yourself awash in numbers, fractions, ratios, and the metronome ticking of constant counting.

Take this beautiful wreath, for instance, hanging now in Colonial Williamsburg. 

.

 

December 3, 2014 CW wreathes 152

.

At first glance, you might register the color and complexity of design.    But if you take a deep breath, and hold your focus on the details for a few moments, the “3s” begin to pop out at you.

How many sets of “3” can you find?

.

 

December 3, 2014 CW wreathes 151

.

I only mention this in the hopes of getting your own creative juices flowing a bit. 

(You see, I can count on my fingers those blogging friends who have suggested they might send me a photo of a wreath they’ve made, or a link to their own post about making a wreath.)

.

 

December 3, 2014 CW wreathes 150

.

Until you’ve made one, it looks hopelessly complicated.  That is how I felt when facing my first dress pattern and yards of cloth back in Jr. High school!

But step by step, bit by bit, making a wreath like this isn’t as complex as it might appear.

Yes, you can do it, too!

Do you notice that there are three artichokes, three lotus pods, and three groups of  three oranges?  There are four pomegranates, just to throw us off a little, and five pine cones. The wreath is worked in only five colors:  green, red, orange, brown, yellow, and cream.

This wreath is composed from fruits, vegetables, dried flowers, pine cones, lotus pods, and evergreen branches.  It could be made on a straw, Styrofoam, or wire wreath base.  Any of the three would work, but Styrofoam would be the easiest to use.

.

A similiar design hanging a ways down Francis St. from the first.

A similiar design hanging on Duke of Gloucester Street.   Drumsticks and Cinnamon sticks ornament this wreath, made on a grapevine wreath form. The components are attached with light weight florist’s wire and floral “picks,” and possibly hot glue.  Did you notice the three pomegranates, three artichokes, and three groups of three oranges?  See the triangles formed in the design? The color scheme is basically the same as the first wreath.

.

Once you had all of the components assembled, it would take you less than an hour to pull this wreath together.

When working with a wire wreath base, thin, flexible wire is first attached to all of the components, and then those wires are twisted onto the base.  You would attach the branches first, then the large cones and fruits, finishing off with bunches of dried flowers to fill in the bare spots.  Small wooden skewers, already attached to thin wire (florist picks) are used to wire the artichokes, pomegranates, and oranges to the wire base.

This lovely wreath features mostly dried flowers and seed pods.  You could make this easily with a hot glue gun.

This lovely wreath features mostly dried flowers and seed pods on a grapevine base.  The green comes from dried hops.  You could easily make this with just  a hot glue gun.

 

.

I prefer working on straw bases or Styrofoam.  I use long wire “staples” to attach the green branches to the base, and pieces of thin bamboo “shish-kabob” skewers (from the grocery store) to impale the fruits or vegetables and attach them to the base.  Wire little bunches of the dried flowers together, and attach them with the wire staples, too, as the finishing touch.

Some people use hot-glue in the assembly.  This works, too; especially for the light elements of your design.

I’m doing the mental work tonight on two wreathes I plan to construct tomorrow.  If they turn out well, I’ll share photos in a later post. 

.

 

December 3, 2014 CW wreathes 034

.

This fairly unusual wreath we spotted last week on our walk through Colonial Williamsburg inspired my design idea…

.

 

December 3, 2014 CW wreathes 030

.

Early December tends to be a creative time of the year for many of us.  We’re decorating, cooking, and maybe even making a few gifts.

.

 

This wreath is formed on grapevines and a hollowed out gourd.

This wreath is formed on grapevines and a hollowed out gourd.  Okra pods, berries,  oranges, and dried flowers add color and interest to the design.  This hangs on Francis Street, west of the old Capitol.

.

We enjoy making things for the coming holidays. 

Actually, the lights and evergreens help distract me from the grey skies, fog, and cold winds this month brings.

.

 

December 3, 2014 CW wreathes 035

.

By focusing on beauty, it makes the wintery reality of December a little easier to endure.

What are you creating this December?

Take whatever comes to hand, and please, make something beautiful!

.

Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

.

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

 

Holiday Wreath Challenge 2014

 

Advertisements

Choosing A Tree For the Garden

?????????????????????????

When you’re ready to plant new trees in your garden, how do you choose which kind? 

Most plant catalogs give so little information to help you choose, and their photos are often tiny.    A new tree likely will still be growing in your garden long after you’ve moved on, so it’s important to make a wise selection.

Like choosing a mate, sometimes it’s just a matter of falling in love with a particular plant.  We fall in love with a beautiful Magnolia, which unfolds its delicate flowers in earliest spring, and just want one growing in our garden.

It always pays to look a little beyond love at first sight when making a life-long selection, as most of us have learned by now.  So let me share a few thoughts on how to choose a tree, with which you will fall in love, and also to make a few suggestions for those whose gardens are similar to ours.

Mountain Laurel, a small evergreen tree, blooms each May.  Since every part of it is poisonous, deer leave it alone.

Mountain Laurel, a small evergreen tree, blooms each May. Since every part of it is poisonous, deer leave it alone.  Dogwood to the left just finished blooming in April.

My neighbors and I have lately developed a “love hate” relationship with our trees.  Let me rephrase that for clarity:  a “love-fear” relationship.  We love our trees.  Most of us chose this neighborhood because we love the heavily wooded, shady, beauty of our community.  And yet, we’ve all had fallen trees on our own or a neighbor’s property, and seen our roads blocked and property damaged from storms destroying our trees over the last few years.

We’ve seen how the huge old oaks and beech trees we love all summer for their shade can blow over in an instant during strong storms.  There have been only a few, rare days over the past seven months when we haven’t listened to chainsaws, grinders, blowers, and heavy trucks in our neighborhood as storm damage is cleaned up and tree trimming and removal continues.

We’ve all looked up into the canopies surrounding our homes, wondering which trees are vulnerable in the next high wind.  We’ve looked for dead limbs, leaning trees, and thick canopies which need pruning to survive.

 November 24 2013 trees 002

So the first criteria for any new tree we plant is its mature height.  When you know how tall a tree will grow over the next 20 to 50 years, you know how far to plant it away from your home.

Now, most of us have old trees in our yards which were growing here when the lots were cleared for our homes.  The builders left them, and we’ve loved them all these years.  These are the old oaks, poplars, beech trees and pines falling all around the Williamsburg area.

Any tree planted within 100’ of a home should have a mature height of less than 100’.  Many of our native hardwood trees reach that height, and more.  So we need to check the height of any new tree, and plant it a minimum of that distance away from our roof and driveway.

Most of our trees grew here long before the houses were built, and tower over 100' in their maturity.

Most of our trees grew here long before the houses were built, and tower over 100′ in their maturity.

A second criterion is what material the tree will annually drop, and where that will fall.  Have you ever lived near a mulberry tree?  I love mulberries, and they are beautiful trees.  Birds love them, too, and sit in their branches gorging on mulberries for several weeks each summer.  You know what happens next, don’t you?

White pine trees not only drop their needles each year, but also pine cones and dead branches.  Our native pines grow quite tall, and suffer frequent wind damage.   One always watches the nearby pines swaying in a heavy storm.  I’ve spent many hours at a previous property picking up cones and raking needles to use as mulch.  It is a constant responsibility, and an expensive project to have them trimmed or removed.

Some trees, like Bradford pears, bloom beautifully in early spring, but have weak wood.  They drop branches, they split, and they develop disease.  Once a popular landscaping tree, like the Lombardy Poplar, many have found they are problematic as they age, and have them removed.

Any fruit or nut producing tree will also present a challenge.  One must properly care for the tree and harvest the produce, or be ready to clean up spoiled fruit which falls.  Our garden is filled with fruit and nut trees, and yet we don’t get most of the harvest.  Who does?  The squirrels, who can get through any net, and will strip the tree of peaches and apples before they can ripen.

American Holly surrounded by white pines.

American Holly surrounded by white pines.

Another concern in our neighborhood is the hungry herd of deer, who graze on certain trees and shrubs.  Although we have a list of deer resistant plants which grow in our area, the deer don’t always read the list or heed it.  It is hard to protect certain new plants, even with cages, fences, sprays and any other repellant you can think to try.  We certainly don’t want to plant a tree they like, which will draw them in even more.

Aug 6 2013 dragonfly 005

Magnolia, one of the earliest trees to bloom, is rarely touched by deer. An early bloomer in March, this tree gave us bloom again in late summer.

Finally, choose a tree for its beauty.  Whether you want something evergreen, or a tree which transforms with the seasons, choose a tree which you find beautiful.  I love trees which bloom, and later have beautiful fall color.  Some trees have beautiful bark and branches; others have intricate bright leaves all season.

Every tree has some value for wildlife.  It provides shelter, harbors insects the birds will eat, provides spots for nesting, and usually has some sort of berry or seed birds will eat.  Many provide nectar in early spring for bees.  Even so, I favor generally native or naturalized trees over exotics imported from Europe or Asia.  Our native trees are uniquely suited to the vagaries of our climate and they already fit neatly into the forest ecosystem.

Nov 2 2013 parkway fall color 011

When choosing a tree, remember to consider its fall color and its winter bark and form. Spring blooms are nice, but fall color finishes the season so beautifully.

With all of these criteria in mind, here is my personal “short list” of desirable trees for my Williamsburg forest garden:

Dogwood Cornus florida  This beautiful understory tree thrives in sun to partial shade, and is beautiful every day of the year.  White or pink flowers in April are followed by attractive leaves which turn scarlet in autumn.  Scarlet berries follow the flowers, and winter branches hold the buds for next spring’s flowers.  Graceful and strong, these trees only reach 20’-30’ tall.  Native to Virginia, they manage to survive any grazing deer and have adjusted to our soil and climate.

Magnolia grandiflora This huge, glorious, evergreen tree simply shines every day of the year.  Its large oval leaves are glossy green, and its large white lotus-like blossoms perfume the summer air from May on.  Another native, a Magnolia demands space.  It can dominate a yard as it spreads its long branches to cover a space 30’ to 40’ across.  It may eventually reach a height of 90’ or more.  This is an exceptionally strong tree, wonderful for children to climb, and rarely seen blown over in our summer winds.

Figs are the only fruit tree on my short list, because the fruit is able to ripen without getting eaten by the critters.

Figs are the only fruit tree on my short list, because they are beautiful, andthe fruit is able to ripen without getting eaten by the squirrels or deer.

Deciduous Magnolia species.  There are many other species of Magnolia which bloom in early spring before their leaves unfurl.  Most of these species originated in Asia.  Magnolia soulangiana, or tulip Magnolia, blooms in shades of pink, purple, white and yellow.  This is one of the most beautiful trees in the spring garden, and one of the earliest to bloom.  Trees are very graceful, with beautiful bark and branches.  They rarely grow over 30’.

A young Magnolia grandiflora grows in the shade of pines.

A young Magnolia grandiflora grows in the shade of pines.

Holly Our native holly, Ilex opaca, is one of many beautiful evergreen hollies which grow well in our gardens.  Although deer have grazed hybrid holly plants just home from the nursery, the native holly survives the deer.  Beautiful red berries cover the female plants all winter.  If planting, make sure to purchase at least one male holly plant for every 5 to 6 female plants.  Rare specimens will eventually grow to more than 40’ or so, with a spread of around 20’.  Another understory tree, holly prefers full sun, but can grow in partial shade.

Live Oak  Quercus virginiana The live oak, another graceful, spreading, evergreen tree; is known for its enormously strong wood.  At one time, the US Navy maintained oak forests to produce wood for ships.  These lovely oaks will reach maybe 60’ over many years, in exceptionally good growing conditions.  But live oaks usually grow wider than they are tall.  Their branches often droop down to nearly touch the ground before growing up towards the sky again.  It is extremely rare for a live oak, one of the strongest trees, to suffer wind damage unless hit by a tornado.  These trees host many other species of plant along their branches, to include mosses, ferns, and ivy.  They provide shelter for wildlife and produce acorns each autumn.

There are over 90 species of oak native to the United States. Most will reach 60’-80’, or more. As much as I love oak trees, all four of the trees we’ve had fall, destroying other trees as they fell, were oaks.  Most species grow very tall and develop thick canopies each summer, which can catch a strong wind like a sail.   When they fall in a storm, a huge portion of roots is also torn out of the ground, leaving a huge, deep hole, with roots 12′-15′  up in the air. For these reasons, I’d be very cautious about planting an oak, and make sure it was planted far enough from the house to not hit if it falls 50 years from now.

Magnolia grandiflora growing along the Colonial Parkway near Jametown, VA.

Magnolia grandiflora growing along the Colonial Parkway near Jametown, VA.

Birch Birch trees, small to medium sized with beautiful bark, are native to many different temperate regions around the planet.  There are some native birch species, but many imports from Europe and Asia naturalize easily.  Strong wood, graceful habit, and good fall color make these a beautiful choice.

Maple There are hundreds of varieties of maple, native to many temperate regions around the planet.  Although some species grow quite large, many smaller, and even dwarf species are on the market.  Maples are known for their beautiful foliage.  Many Asian species have red, purple, or even variegated leaves all summer.  Maples are deciduous, have love bark, and are very healthy trees.

White Crepe Myrtles front the Kingspoint Clubhouse property.

White Crepe Myrtles bloom from July through September.  They rarely suffer any damage from wind or grazing deer.

Crepe Myrtle, Lagerstroemia indica, though not native in Virginia, have naturalized here easily.  These beautiful trees cover themselves in flowers from early July to September.  Generally small trees, they have beautiful bark, fall color, and rarely suffer damage in the wind.

Mountain Laurel Kalmia latifolia is really more shrub than tree.  Rarely will it grow beyond 12’ high in our area.  Evergreen, with beautiful flowers in early summer, it grows in dense clumps, often on hillsides and along riverbanks.  Native to Virginia, it is never grazed by the deer because it is poisonous.  All parts of this lovely shrub with its twisted trunks and branches are poisonous.  It is a good alternative here to Azaleas, which the deer devour.

The Eastern Red Bud tree is a bright addition to the early spring garden.  These long-lived trees bloom with the early daffodils.

The Eastern Red Bud tree is a bright addition to the early spring garden. These long-lived trees bloom with the early daffodils.

Fig Ficus cariga The one fruit bearing tree which makes it to my list is the fig.  Most of my fig trees produce green or golden fruit, which generally survive to ripen, and for us to pick and enjoy.  The figs don’t fall on the ground or attract insects, and are rarely bothered by deer or squirrels.  Fig trees tend to grow broad and stand up to the wind fairly well.  Huge, beautiful leaves cover the fig all summer, and its form is beautiful when the leaves have dropped.  Many different species, with different colors of fruit and overall tree size are available.  Figs can be grown in large pots or in the ground, and most are hardy in our climate.

Pomegranate ripening

Pomegranate ripening.  Not on my list of 10, but a good tree in our garden.

So here is my personal list of ten trees I would choose to plant, knowing what I know now about this acre garden in coastal Virginia.  If I had to whittle this list down to one tree to recommend to anyone in my neighborhood, it would be our native Dogwood.  Small enough to fit any of our yards, it can tolerate shade and still bloom each spring.  Neat, strong, hardy, and beautiful throughout the year, it is the state tree of Virginia.

Dogwood leaves and berries turn criimson in Autumn.  This photo from the first week of November.

Dogwood leaves and berries turn crimson in Autumn. This photo from the first week of November.

I hope you are looking at your garden, and thinking about whether you will plant a new tree this year.  A gift yourself, a gift to your garden, and a gift to the planet; I know of no greater gesture of optimism and love.

Which beautiful trees will plant in your garden this spring?

Dogwood tree in April

Dogwood tree in April

All Photos by Woodland Gnome 

“If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed; if in terms of ten years, plant trees; if in terms of 100 years, teach the people.”

 Confucius

Deer Resistant Plants Which Grow in Our Neighborhood

Bringing Birds to the Garden

What’s There to Eat?

More Tree Wisdom

Pruning

Fresh (and Dried) From the Garden

An herb garden on Duke of Gloucester Street in Colonial Williamsburg

An herb garden on Duke of Gloucester Street in Colonial Williamsburg

Once upon a time most of the makings for a merry Christmas came from the garden.  Although most of us today might begin at a big box retailer or the grocery store, up until the last generation, Christmas was mostly home-grown.   Even so, much of what we purchase today still comes from someone’s garden or farm.

Artichokes growing now will bloom in the spring.

Artichokes growing now will bloom in the spring.

Pomegranate growing near the Bruton Parish garden.

Pomegranate growing near the Bruton Parish garden.

Even as the agricultural year is at its lowest ebb, and snow covers much of the country this weekend, there is a great deal to be gathered outside.  Solstice celebrations have honored trees since earliest times.  The Egyptians  brought palm fronds indoors in late December to honor the rebirth of Ra.  Trees have been a potent symbol of life and longevity for time out of memory.

Trees in the garden at Colonial Williamsburg

Trees in the garden at Colonial Williamsburg

Evergreen trees hold a special place in solstice celebrations all over the world and symbolize everlasting life and promise the return of the sun.  Evergreens with red berries, like holly and Nandina are especially popular winter decorations since the berries are symbolic of the returning sun.  So branches of trees and shrubs, cut from one’s own garden  or purchased from a nursery, are first on our list merry-makings from the garden.

We include mistletoe among the evergreens.  Growing on trees, though not a tree itself, it is an evergreen plant full of myth and meaning.  It is an important part of our decorations.

Even bare branches make beautiful decorations.  I love white twinkle lights laced through the bare branches of crepe myrtle.  Once I decorated an entire spiral staircase with dead branches pruned from mountain laurel shrubs, wrapped in white lights.  It was perfectly beautiful and I kept it lit each evening until spring.

We also gather every sort of cone and seed.  Whether used as is, or painted white or gold; cones are beautiful in wreathes, swags, sprays, centerpieces and hung on the Christmas tree.

Wreath in Colonial Williamsburg

Wreath in Colonial Williamsburg with cones, artichokes, apples, dried fruit, and seed pods on an evergreen base.

Nuts and nut shells can be used in the same way to make decorations.  Nuts are also gathered for wonderful Christmas foods like cakes, cookies, fudge, puddings, and breads.  Walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, and almonds grow over much of the United States.  It’s always wonderful to have a nut tree in one’s own garden or the garden of a friend.  Peanuts, although not from a tree, are an important food at Christmas all over the southern United States and can be grown at home.

December 5 2013 DOG St 039

A different wreath, using much of the same fruits, cones, and vegetables for decoration.

We also enjoy every sort of fruit and berry at Christmas.  Except for persimmons, pomegranates and the occasional late fig, most of us have to use dried fruit or preserves.   Local apples are still available in Virginia, but they were picked and stored weeks ago.  We import oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes from Florida and California.  Whether used in wreathes; stuck with cloves and set out in bowls; sliced into mulled wine or Wassail; or peeled and eaten out of hand, citrus is an important part of our Christmas celebration.

Many crops still wait to be harvested in the CW garden.

Many crops still wait to be harvested in the CW garden.

Cranberries don’t grow well in Virginia, but they fill whole shelves of the produce section at the local groceries.  We eat them from Thanksgiving through the new year baked into cakes muffins and breads.  We grind them with oranges to make cranberry relish and cook them with sugar and other fruits to make preserves.  Those that don’t get eaten are strung onto garlands or stuck into wreathes.

Virginia had a lively trade with islands in the Caribbean during Colonial times and has maintained those ties.  Pineapples are an important symbol of hospitality in Virginia.  Pineapples, imported from the islands, were available for Virginia Christmas celebrations.

Wreathes for sale in the Colonial Williamsburg garden on Duke of Gloucester St. use pineapples, feathers, oyster shells, apples, English holly, and dried flowers in their designs.

Wreathes for sale in the Colonial Williamsburg garden on Duke of Gloucester St. use pineapples, pine cones, feathers, oyster shells, apples, English holly, and dried flowers in their designs.

And of course grapes are enjoyed on party trays with cheeses, or savored as wine.  We bake raisins into cakes, cookies, and puddings. We use grapevines as the base for wreathes and garlands.

We even have greens and produce in the garden.  Our holiday meals are built around potatoes, carrots, celery, kohlrabi, collards, cabbages, kale, salad greens, broccoli, and brussel sprouts.  Many of these are still out in the garden with a little winter protection, or have just come in for winter storage.

Some might count eggs, since many keep their own chickens or buy eggs locally.  Eggs are used in such huge quantities as we bake our way towards Christmas day.  Likewise honey, an important part of the holiday, and a gift from our gardens.

Flowers, like lavender, Achillea, roses, hydrangea, baby’s breath, and cockscomb; dried last summer,  come out to play their part in our decorations. Whether worked into our wreathes, or tucked into the branches of the Christmas tree, they remind us of fragrant summers past.

December 5 2013 DOG St 031Herbs can still be cut here in Williamsburg, for both cooking and for decorations.  We still have sage, rosemary, thyme, parsley, germander, and some fragrant geraniums living in the garden.  Many more dried herbs and spices shine at Christmas.  How could we bake without cinnamon?    Cinnamon sticks. star anise, and cloves work their way into our decorations with dried citrus and herbs.  Sprigs of herbs tied into a bow make a Christmas gift fragrant.  Herbs and essential oils melted with beeswax and Shea butter or mixed with salt or sugar make special indulgent gifts for loved ones.

The garden at Colonial Williamsburg was bustling with activity when we visited on Thursday afternoon.  In fact, it was the busiest place we visited.  So many beautiful vegetables are still growing in the garden.  The shop is full of tempting wreathes, arrangements, dried materials, tools, and books.  As garlands and wreathes continue popping up all over town, we see the wintery landscape transform into a beautiful botanical paradise.

A centerpiece in the garden shop at CW will make a local table very festive this month.

A centerpiece in the garden shop at CW will make a local table very festive this month.

Everything we need is at hand to make our Christmas merry and bright, waiting for us in someone’s garden.

Here is a recipe to make your Christmas a little more flavorful.  Mulled wine and mulled cider are traditional at Virginia Christmas parties, as they are in England.  Mulled wine, or Gluehwein, is served at Christmas markets all over Germany, Switzerland, and Austria today.   I’ll be  making this tomorrow afternoon for our neighborhood cookie exchange party.  December 5 2013 DOG St 017After helping to construct nearly 2 dozen little houses from graham crackers and royal icing, I’ll be more than ready to sit back and sip a cup while watching the children decorate the houses with candy.

Mulled Wine or Gluehwein

Combine 1 1/2 c. of water and/or orange juice and 1 1/2 c. sugar in a large pot and simmer on medium heat as the sugar dissolves.  Wash, and cut 2 oranges, a large lemon, and an apple into narrow wedges or slices.  Stick whole cloves into the sliced fruit to use between 12 and 20 cloves.  Add the fruit to the simple syrup along with a 2 tsp. of cinnamon or a cinnamon stick.  Allow the syrup and fruit to simmer on a very low heat for at least 20 minutes before adding two bottles of red wine.  I like to use a Shiraz or Syrah as they are bold, fruity wines.  Once the wine is heated through (do not boil) transfer the mixture to a crock pot to keep warm, or serve directly from the cooking pot for informal events.

For a non-alcoholic treat, use apple juice or cider, or a combination of apple and cranberry juice in place of the wine.  Skip the water, and mull the fruit and spices in the fruit juices.  Add a little rum to individual servings as needed.

All Photos by Woodland Gnome 2013

December 5 2013 DOG St 026

Weekly Photo Challenge: Let There Be Light!

Bruton Parish, on Duke of Gloucester Street in Colonial Williamsburg.

Bruton Parish, on Duke of Gloucester Street in Colonial Williamsburg.

The Grand Illumination in Colonial Williamsburg is this coming weekend, on Sunday evening, and I’ve wanted all week to walk on Duke of Gloucester Street to see the wreathes and decorations while they’re fresh.  Each day lately has been filled to the brim, and so the trip was pushed into this afternoon.  And then it rained.  So much of the United States is preparing for a winter storm with snow and ice; but we are looking at a stretch of rain here in Williamsburg, just as the town fills with visitors for one of the biggest events of the year.

Lights are already lit inside the church.

Lights are already lit inside the church.

The rain stopped in early afternoon, but it looked like dusk by 2:30.  The air was heavy with moisture, every surface wet, with patches of lichen and moss thriving on trees trunks and wooden roofs.  Candles shone from windows here and there, and twinkle lights outside of restaurants were already lit.

Twinkle lights dress the Crepe Myrtle trees on Duke of Gloucester Street.

Twinkle lights dress the Crepe Myrtle trees on Duke of Gloucester Street.

A grey December day; but it didn’t affect the crowd.  Parking scarce, it was business as usual for a weekday afternoon on Duke of Gloucester Street.  And Christmas decorations are just going up in preparation for the weekend.

Colonial Williamsburg’s decorations are made mostly with fresh and dried botanicals.  Dried citrus slices, cones, seed pods, dried flowers, and evergreens are mixed with fresh fruit, spices, feathers and ribbon.  They are all hand made in the days leading up to the Grand Illumination.  Each year the designs are a little bit different, so it is always a surprise to walk around and see what the designers have created.

Ready made wreathes are offered for sale in the CW garden.

Ready made wreathes are offered for sale in the CW garden.

Wreathes and arrangements are available for sale at the garden across from Bruton Parish Church, as are the materials needed to make ones’ own.

Williamsburg is much greener today than it was in Colonial Times.  Trees were cut in the 17th and 18th century for timber and to clear land for farming.  Over the years many old and stately trees have grown back, so the area is lush today with gardens, hedges, and beautiful trees.December 5 2013 DOG St 037

In spite of a heavy brooding sky, lowering with more rain as we walked, CW felt bright and festive today.  Happy visitors strolled from building to building enjoying the decorations, the horses, the lush gardens, and the novelty of finding such an interesting place set down in the middle of a beautiful town.

There was plenty of light for a December afternoon.

A wreath for sale at the garden.

A wreath for sale at the garden.

Deck the halls with boughs of holly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Tis the season to be jolly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Don we now our gay apparel,
Fa la la, la la la, la la la.
Troll the ancient Yule tide carol,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

December 5 2013 DOG St 024See the blazing Yule before us,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Strike the harp and join the chorus.
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Follow me in merry measure,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
While I tell of Yule tide treasure,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

December 5 2013 DOG St 014Fast away the old year passes,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Hail the new, ye lads and lasses,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Sing we joyous, all together,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Heedless of the wind and weather,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Traditional

16th Century Welsh Carol

All Photos by Woodland Gnome 2013

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 678 other followers

Follow Forest Garden on WordPress.com
Order Classic Caladiums

This Month’s Posts

Topics of Interest