Aah, the scent of fresh-cut cedar, pine or rosemary.
It's what makes the holiday smell so good and feel so real.
You get those seasonal sensations when you make your own fresh evergreen garland for the front porch, stairway banister or fireplace mantel. All you need is evergreen trimmings, rolled wire and an hour or two.
Dianne Duncan, a gardener with
, has been creating evergreen garlands, as well as wreaths and swags, for holiday decorations on buildings in the historic area since 2005.
"Take a walk in your yard and cut anything green that appeals to you," she says, while demonstrating how to wire and weave a garland together.
"You cannot go wrong, it will be beautiful."
If your garland will be in sun, magnolia, cedar, rosemary and spruce tolerate the heat better. If you want your garland to smell good, do not condition, or soak the evergreens in water.
"Making the garland is not hard," says Duncan.
"As you wire the bundles of evergreens together, your garland grows. The stems are the backbone of the garland, making it really strong, so don't be afraid to pull tightly on the wire as you put them together.
"The garland will easily last four weeks, making your home smell and look like Christmas."
24-gauge rolled wire, or any similar gauge, as long as it's rolled, not pre-cut pieces
Assorted sprigs of evergreens, such as hemlock, pine, cedar, holly, arborvitae, rosemary, bayberry, loblolly pine and magnolia, each piece cut about 6-10 inches long.
•Cut your evergreens "backward," or slanted so sap runs toward the ends of the evergreen sprigs, not out the cut end; this helps prevent sap drippings on paint or other surfaces.
•On a large work surface, assemble mixed or matched evergreens into bundles of three. You need about five bundles per foot of garland for fullness.
•Hold the first bundle, run wire around the stems and twist in back.
•Hold the second bundle to the left of the first bundle, stems over stems, and run wire around them, pulling tightly as you work.
•Hold the third bundle to the right of the first bundle, stems over stems, and run wire around them, again pulling tightly as you work.
•Repeat the process — center bundle, left bundle, right bundle — until you get the length of garland that you need. If you wire breaks, attach it again by twisting and keep on wiring continuously.
•To finish the end off, work in the opposite direction, doing a left and right bundle and finally a center bundle.
•Cut wire and tuck end into stems.
•If desired, you can wire on bows, fruits or holiday ornaments. To add fruits, run a wire through the center of each piece and attach with wires tucked into the back of the garland.
Enjoy the look
•Now through New Year's weekend, Colonial Williamsburg is dressed up for the holidays with all-natural decorations such as apples, oranges, lemons and pineapples on wreaths, swags and garlands.
Decorations Walking Tour, you can learn about the materials, construction techniques and holiday traditions at 9:15 a.m. and 11 a.m. and 1:30 and 3:15 p.m. daily through Dec. 31 except on Dec. 3, 4 and 25. Admission is $10 with a Colonial Williamsburg admission pass or $15 without a Historic Area admission pass. (There are no 9:15 a.m. tours on Dec. 3, no 3:15 p.m. tours on Dec. 4 and no 9:15 a.m. or 3:15 p.m. tours on Dec. 25.)
•Or, you can learn how to make your own Williamsburg-inspired holiday decorations using fresh fruit, greens and other natural materials in the book, "Williamsburg Decorating Ideas for Your Home." It's $19.95 and can be purchased at Williamsburg Booksellers, Williamsburg Celebrations, Craft House, Everything Williamsburg, Greenhow Store and Tarpley's Store, all in the Colonial Williamsburg area.
For more information, visit colonialwilliamsburg.com.
What the look takes
Materials used to decorate Colonial Williamsburg's Historic Area and nearby buildings for the holiday include:
•More than three miles of white pine roping
•2,550 white pine and Frasier fir wreaths
•15 truckloads of pine, holly, boxwood, magnolia and berries
•79 cases of fruit
•Before placing a fresh evergreen garland on your fireplace mantel or any furniture, line the surface with freezer paper, wax paper side down so sap will not ruin the piece.
•Collect pods, nuts, cones and other interesting dried materials throughout the year and store them with insect preventive in dust-proof containers; then you will have enough on hand when you are ready to make and decorate.
•Keep the largest pieces near the center of the garland, swag or wreath and the lightest or smallest materials to the edges. Distribute colors throughout the arrangements, whether it's a cone, wreath, roping or swag. —
"Christmas Decorations from Williamsburg."