They say you go back in time when you get to Colonial Williamsburg, but you really do and that is part of the great charm of the holidays here. As one of the great historic sites in the Nation, Colonial Williamsburg take Christmas just as seriously as they did in the 18th centrury. In fact they take it nearly exactly as they did all those years ago. Nearly every last structure here is decorated with natural items that were used during Colonial times.
Each year the Colonial Williamsburg Floral Design Department and volunteers spend months working on the wreath decorations for most of the structures here. The few lucky who actually live here decorate thier own homes. Coveted awards for best wreaths are sought after and displayed proudly on the front of the winning buildings.
There are no christmas lights here adorning the homes, stores or pubs. Just simple items found mainly in the gardens and on the trees. One of the most facsinating for me is the Cardoon plant.
It grows heartily in the winter. As the plant matures, the stalk is cut, the leaves are stripped away and the flower or thistle that blooms from it, is cut off. The thistle is used for decorations in wreaths, the stalk is cooked for dinner. From what I understand, it tastes just like it’s cousin, the artichoke.
All natural doesn’t have to be boring. There are plenty of ways to display a variety of ingredients and found leaves. At this private home in the middle of the historic district the decor is horse related. The Apples and Magnolia Leaves go beautifully together. I especially love the stirrup holding a single apple.
Another place for deocrations is the orchards. Lady Smith Apples are the main attraction on wreaths around the town. They are hearty and found more prevalently on the North facing facades due to the lack of direct heat that can spoil them. I did not see a spoiled one in the bunch.
Their wonderful outdoor Colonial Garden and Nuusery sells everything you see around town in big bins for your own creative wreath endeavors. These Lady Smith Apples and the miniature Pineapples are the highlights for many wreaths. Due to their status as an exotic import Pineapples were prized in the day as they are now as a Colonial Williamsburg Christmas specialty.
Another great item to look out for are fruits! Osage oranges and pomegranates are grown here in the historic area. They’re also herbs and various vegetables to be found and berries of the season.
One of the unexpected items that also figures prominently here are the local shells from the erosion ravines heading toward the river. These shells lay just under the soil now and can be easily dug up. There are so many of them they use the crushed peices for the loose (gravel like) pathways. Both scalloped and oyster shells are found in the area.
Other wreaths feature hops and freeze-dried items while others include cocoa or hot peppers. Many of the items are themed to the use of the buildings themselves.
The wreaths include every type. Here is just a sampling of what is displayed here.
Well there are plenty more and all to be had with roaring fires, inns, pubs and great shopping! This Bee is here for one more day and heading out to shoot more of Colonial Williamsburg this morning. I’ll be popping in and out for some hot tea and great food in between photographs. Despite driving 8 hours to get here in the worst snow storm I can remember, it has been worth every minute of the drive so far!
Britt : )