Sunday, November 15, 2009

Victorian Christmas Preparations

I almost find it hard to believe that we are already back to the point in the year where I need to head to the woods to gather plant material for Victorian Christmas decorating. Wasn't it just a few days ago that I was putting the 2008 decorations away? No, I suppose that it wasn't. Those of you who are not from the Annapolis Royal region may not know about our annual Victorian Christmas celebrations at the O'Dell House Museum. Over the last 35 or so years this event has grown into a local holiday tradition. Thanks to some very talented volunteers, the entire 1860s section of the museum is decorated using period appropriate decorations. These decorations are made from things grown in the garden or found in the forest. When visitors arrive at the museum they are greeted with homemade cookies, hot mulled apple cider and carols being sung around our 1885 Annapolis Organ Company parlour organ. As they visit the museum they have the chance to chat with our costumed interpreters and see how the house looks lit only with kerosene lamps and candles. This is a fun event for everyone.

For the past few years Ian Lawrence and I have gone out to the woods to see what we can find. Last year we had a few problems because we had about three feet of snow on the ground by this point in the year. Thankfully the weather was good this year because we were joined by five year old Rhys Scranton for the first time. When we are in the woods our usual haul includes balsam fir boughs, three types of club moss, beech leaves, dried ferns, white pine, alder, and whatever else we can happen to find. Garry Freeman supplements these with Canadian holly berries, Bittersweet vines, boxwood, dried hydrangea and a variety of plants from the garden. All of this material is piled in the middle of the museum's entryway and somehow turned into spectacular decorations and arrangements.

You will note that we were all wearing hunter's orange while we were in the woods. Nothing spoils a nice quiet afternoon gathering plants like getting accidentally shot. If you happen to be in the Annapolis Royal area, the event is always held on the last weekend of November and the first weekend of December. As the event gets closer I will be posting more information and photographs.

All for now,

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