Tuesday, December 3, 2013

At This Festive Season of the Year

Around Landis Valley, Christmastime is officially here. True, the interiors have been decked already, with trees, putzes, ribbon, candles, ornaments, and festive artifacts on display, but the exteriors always need a little something that says “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.”

Enter the swags and the wreath made today by 10 Heirloom Seed Project volunteers. Thirty swags will grace the doors and some of the signposts around the village and one wreath will hang against the fa├žade of the Yellow Barn, totaling 250 pounds of plant material.

And what a variety of plants are used! Beginning at 9 a.m., the volunteers are presented with at least double the amount of greens and dried ornamental plants that they will need to create the beautiful decorations.

“We supply the greens and the volunteers bring whatever they want to put on the swags,” says Beth Leensvaart, Assistant Coordinator of the Heirloom Seed Project. “In fact, that’s the most fun for me—collecting the dried ornamentals.

It is a veritable feast for the creative minds gathered. They carefully pluck from the piles and bags:
  • Pine branches and cones
  • Locust Bean Pods
  • Fir
  • Holly
  • Hydrangeas
  • Lavender
  • Boxwood
  • Winterberries
  • Prickly sweet gum tree seed pods
  • Broomcorn
  • Milkweed Pods
  • Chokecherry
  • Amaranth
For the swags, most of the branches are pleasantly arranged and then twisted together with floral wire. They must be held together tightly because, as the days pass, the branches dry out and shrink, causing loose, errant stems to fall from the arrangement. A few of the decorations, like the gum seed pods and the hydrangeas, need to be glued in place. Once done, each swag then gets a pretty, freshly-made, red bow [at left]. Beth reports that the enterprise uses about 100 yards of ribbon.

As for this year’s wreath, that is the realm of long-time volunteers Gloria Stevens and Julie Welsh [right]. They have taken holly, amaranth, pine cones, broom corn and boxwood, twisted them together with branches of fir and floral wire, and have wrapped them around the roughly 4-foot wide wooden frame.

They are not edible by any stretch of the imagination, but the swags and wreath are eye candy for not only those with a horticultural bent, but for anyone who appreciates natural beauty. It also creates a feeling of satisfaction in Landis Valley volunteers and staff who come together and festively change the Landis Valley landscape. Enjoy!

Our swags and wreath will be on display from now until December 31. Bring the family and tour the decorated buildings, make Christmas-themed crafts to take home, and enjoy complimentary gingersnaps and cocoa as you are entertained by the Belsnickel. It’s Country Christmas Village, Landis Valley’s interpretation of Pennsylvania German Christmas traditions. Saturdays, December 7 and 14, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays, December 8 and 15, from noon to 4 p.m. Regular admission rates apply.

Also, don’t miss the Holiday at Landis Valley Bonfire, to be held Friday, December 13, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. As this is our annual gift to you, admission is free and all are welcome! We just request that, in lieu of admission, please bring a canned-good donation for the Lancaster County Food Bank. We hope to see you there!