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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Holiday Wreaths of Colonial Williamsburg

Last Thanksgiving I arose in the early morning and quietly shut the hotel door behind me while Mr. Décor and Sweet Boy slept on.

I was on a mission ~ to photograph the buildings, workers and famous wreaths of Colonial Williamsburg before the crowds arrived. Indeed the sun was just coming up, my breath frosty in the cold, as I began to walk along the Duke of Gloucester Street.

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The first wreath I spied had a lovely fir base and was embellished with miniature pineapples (a symbol of welcome) pomegranates, pinecones, apples, scored oranges, wheat stalks, mums and marigolds.

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Colonial Williamsburg first began decorating for the holidays in 1936. The event is now one of their largest tourist attractions.

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The landscape staff of Colonial Williamsburg create more than 2,550 wreaths and over three miles of garland. Residents who live in the historic area decorate their homes using only natural material that was readily available in the 18th century. A contest is held every year to determine the most imaginative or most beautifully designed decorations. 

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Even the pediments of homes and businesses are adorned.

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The zoom lens was used to capture these arrangements and I so wished that I could see what the base was made out of~ wire? The glossy magnolia leaves provided a base for the fruit, pinecones and seed pod.

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This turkey feather topper was amazing.

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Lemons were wired on to the greenery as were the other elements.

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I had never before seen fresh seed pods and was truly fascinated.

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Pheasant feathers, antlers, cotton bolls, and pepper berries are perfection!

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Cockscomb, empty cotton bolls, artichokes, apples and… fungus. Yep. But I love it.

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Here’s a closer look.

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I wish that there was a scratch and sniff option for photographs.

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Whole oranges were joined with orange slices.

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My early morning ramblings led me to the Williamsburg Inn. I’ll take you inside later this week.

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Each window was embellished.

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The chairs inside this restaurant were a fabulous bentwood design.

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A dried fruit wreath graced the door of a very pretty cottage.

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This wreath captured my attention. Someone please tell me what the purple clusters are.

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I really adored the burlap rosettes.

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Yes, I’ll take two.

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Even the garlands received embellishments. A simple grapevine circle, 5 pinecones, an orange slice and wow~ a beautiful star is created. I’m doing this!

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Sure, you’ve heard of two wreaths, but on one door? YES!

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A Williamsburg wreath trifecta!

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Even the print shop was bedecked.

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Beautiful boxwood.

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About this time my boys showed up and I shared my favorites.

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The flora and fauna finery at the Governors Palace was fabulous.

Instructions on how to create your own Williamsburg inspired wreath can be found HERE.

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The boys then bid me adieu. They wanted to go see a musket demonstration. I had tried to register online for an early morning tour of the Thomas Everard house but had been unable to do so. Sadly, once we arrived I had been informed at the guest welcome center that the tour was full. I was crushed! The house was FULL of pre revolutionary furniture.

I decided to see if perhaps they would let me join in…

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… come back on Friday to see if my heartfelt pleas were heard.


Linking to:

The Charm of Home, Common Ground, StoneGable, Between Naps On The Porch, Today’s Creative Blog, Someday Crafts, SSS,Shabby Nest, Tatertots and Jello, Positively Splendid, The 36th Avenue, Jennifer Rizzo, Craftberry Bush, A Stroll Thru Life


Cindy (Applestone Cottage) said...

This was an awesome tour Laura! The wreaths just blew me away!
What a great trip, I want to go!

Carlene @ Organized Clutter said...

I loved the wreath tour, Laura. I visited colonial Williamsburg once but not during the holiday season.

♥ Sonny ♥ said...

thank you laura.. that was a beautiful wreath tour and I enjoyed seeing each one. they sure make my holiday decor look mighty plain, lol.

Julie Tucker-Wolek said...

Ohhhhhhhhhhh I love love love these wreaths!! So gorgeous!! Can't wait to see if you got in on the tour!!

Christine said...

I haven't heard of this event before. Such a wonderful way to draw tourists! The purple flowers are strawflowers I think.

Denise said...

Hi Laura,

This is a great post!! I just LOVE Colonial Williamsburg, but I just can't get my husband interested in going. We went several years ago with our son's scout troop, but it was such a rushed trip; I would love to go back. It's only about a five-hour drive from where we live in North Carolina.

Believe it or not, I have that very book "Christmas Decorations From Williamsburg." I bought it at our local bookstore several years ago. It is full of wonderful pictures and DIY instructions.

The pineapple and magnolia leaf decoration on the pediments that you photographed is lovely. I can tell you about the base because many people use them on their houses here at Christmas. A lady I used to work with and her husband make one every year for their lovely home in one of our older neighborhoods.

The base is not made of wire but wood. Her husband cut the base with a saw (not sure what kind of saw) into the half-moon shape. He then nailed nails into the wooden form in regular intervals in rows until the form was filled. You would need to use pretty long nails because you then turn the form over and push the fruit and leaves onto the sharp point of the nails until you have filled the form as full as you want it. You can use any pattern you prefer, but I like the one in your picture. The pineapple really makes a perfect focal point for the center. Does this description make sense? I hope it helps.

The nice thing is that you throw out the fruit after the holidays, but you can keep the form and use it year after year. There's a local gift shop here that actually sold some of these, but they had wooden painted fruit instead of real fruit. They were beautiful but ridiculously expensive.

I can't wait to see the rest of your pictures. What a wonderful trip for your family.

Have a great day.

Denise at Forest Manor

Debra @ Common Ground said...

just beautiful, Laura. That turkey feather topper is my favorite!!

marty (A Stroll Thru Life) said...

Oh my word Laura, this is totally amazing. Visiting there is on my bucket list, but I havn't made it so far. Someday. Loved the tour and thanks for joining TTT. Hugs, Marty

Debbie said...

Gorgeous!! My family and I did Williamsburg one Christmas, and it was just wonderful.

Marcy said...

Like Marty, I too would love to see Colonial Williamsburg but haven't yet. Thanks for the beautiful photo tour! I've featured your blog today at stylesson.

Laura Ingalls Gunn said...

Denise solved the construction mystery of the pediment decor! This is why I adore blogging! Whoot! Whoot! :)

Hope Filled Living said...

What a feast for the eyes. Gosh, I wish I could go there and see it. The wreaths were all so pretty and the doors from which they hung. I'm trying to remember the name of the purple flowers. I have yellow ones in my garden. They are so much fun to grow, then dry. Your post makes me want to continue my decorating! Gotta go get my wreaths.

DREAMS ON 34th STREET ~ French Bread & Family said...

So beautiful and inspirational, Laura! Thanks for sharing!

claudia b said...

I've always wanted to visit Colonial Williamsburg, maybe when the boys start US History :D These wreaths are gorgeous - thank you for sharing!

openid said...

I've only been to Williamsburg once (and that was during a heat wave) but have always wanted to return (in cooler weather). Loved all the wreaths you shared. They are similar to the wreaths displayed on homes in my village and a few surrounding ones which date back to colonial times. The dried purple puffs look like thistles.
Your Friend,

Patti said...

I love colonial Williamsburg. I had the opportunity to spend 4 days in the governor's house. It was fabulous. We would have great parties in the keeping room in the evening and our husbands had their meetings in the large room off the foyer. Even Benjamin Franklin paid us a visit. I would love to go back again!

Designs By Pinky said...

I see that denise answered your pediment question. I was going to tell you about the wood base. I also made these at work out of artificial materials(dreied magnolis leaves, frit and greens) and as a base used the grren styrofoam. I sold MANY of them. They are very time consuming but last for many years!!!!! I also have a plan to go to Williamsburg next year, right after Thanksgiving with my hubby. He will LOVE it, and we will both enjoy the LIGHTS!!! XO, Pinky

Jane said...

What a lovely post! Those wreathes and other decorations are fabulous! We have boxwood and cedar, but hadn't thought of using fresh fruit. Might try it if the weather cools down enough.
Happy Thanksgiving Day, Laura!

Kelley Highway said...

Oh, my girl! This is sooo much fun! I cannot wait to see what else you have in store for us as we tour Williamsburg with you! Thanks for this invite!

And I, too, believe the dried purples are strawflowers.


P.S. Did I see you in PHX going down an escalator with Mr. Decor Monday?! Please x 18 say no... If you say yes, I'll cry.

Michele Cole said...

These are so beautiful. I was in Williamsburg this past July when it was 104 degrees at 5 in the evening. It was really too hot to truly enjoy. I would love to go back now that the weather and the homes are so beautiful. Thanks.

Shannon said...

The purple "clusters" are straw flowers, I know they have another name but I can't remember it. I have grown, dried and used them in crafts before. Even fresh they look and feel like straw. They come in that deep burgundy/purple colour as well as yellow and orange. They are fabulous and if handled with care will last a long time.

Auntie Em said...

Your photos from your trip are lovely. A great trip to enjoy at that time of year. Beautiful wreaths always make an entry way look so festive.
Thanks for sharing all the lovely pics! :)

Ivy Clad said...

I think it's so great that so many people will put time and effort into such niceties. It really adds festivity to the season! I enjoyed looking through all of these and got some inspiration for my own front door.


Cheryl Thornton said...

I get your updates in my reader but it says that your blog is written by - when I clicked over it said your post was not found - I had to go to your November posts on the side and find today's was lovely and you obviously put alot of work into it - but you might be losing viewers because of the above...just thought you should know

PinkGranny said...

Wonderful glimpses of a wonderful place to visit. I can't decide which wreath I like best. One after another they are so beautiful!

Kelly_Deal said...

Every wreath is gorgeous!

Myna Kay said...

Wow! Those are the most beautiful wreaths I have ever seen! I love the one with the deer antlers. I would love to visit colonial Williamsburg during the holidays!

Deanna said...

Dearest Laura,
Neat pics you have shared. Wonderful to see this place and the decorations. I hope to visit there one day.

May you have a terrific Thanksgiving!
God bless,

Craftymoose Crafts said...

These are all gorgeous! Scratch and sniff was just what I was thinking!

Barbara F. said...

These are all fabulous wreaths, swags, etc. I enjoyed this tour very much. xo

Karen Albert said...

Laura every single wreathe is gorgeous! I had no idea that there are so many created for the doors of Williamsburg!

A Special Scalamandre Giveaway

Mary Ellen said...

Wow! Such awesome wreaths Laura- thanks so much for all the inspiration- Lots of ideas to incorporate in my decorating....if I can ever get around to it!!

Hope all is well with you- I know your heartful pleas were heard as our God always hears the cries of His Children. Now.... whether he answers as we think He needs to.....

bee blessed

Grace @ Sense and Simplicity said...

Thanks for the tour. What a wide range wreath designs there were. I loved the red berries and the ones with the cotton boles. I'm not sure if it is the proper name, but we always called those maroon flowers straw flowers. They dry like that. I have to try and make one of those stars out of pinecones too.

Heather said...

Thanks so much for sharing these photos Laura! I haven't been able to go to Williamsburg to see the Christmas decorations in person and this was definitely the next best thing!

Michele @ The Nest at Finch Rest said...

Oh, my word!

WOW - just wow.

Susan (My Place to Yours) said...

Beautiful! I've long dreamed of going to Williamsburg during the holidays. Thanks for sharing a glimpse. I love the simplicity and contract of the brown and green (seedpod) wreath against the brown door!

Babs said...

Colonial Williamsburg is one of my favorite places to visit, and I LOVE that style of decorating for Christmas. Thanks for sharing the wreaths. The turkey feather one is especially interesting. Now you're making me want to go back to Williamsburg. :)
Happy Thanksgiving,

Sammy said...

It is all breath taking!

Steph @ Crafting in the Rain said...

All those fruit colors are amazing!