For emphasizing garden gates and porch posts, the talented floral designers of Williamsburg often create plaques of greenery and fruit. Some feature plywood as a base; fruit is impaled onto finishing nails that have been inserted into the wood, with magnolia leaves stapled in place around the fruit. When plaques contain cuttings of plant materials that should be kept moist, florist foam cages serve as the foundation. Greenery and other materials inserted into the foam cover the cage.
The design staff uses heavy twine as a base for making garlands or roping of pine, boxwood, cedar, and other evergreens. They use spool wire to attach handfuls of greenery sprigs to the twine, creating garlands. Window accents, made by inserting greenery and other materials into a block of florist foam or into a florist foam cage, usually hang from nails in windowsills. Small decorations often fill window corners as well.
Enjoy each of these ideas, or adapt your favorite elements of this classic Williamsburg spirit for your home.
At least three main sources laid the groundwork for the popular style of holiday decorating that's now classic in the historic village. In their book, Williamsburg Christmas, Libbey Hodges Oliver and Mary Miley Theobald mention these influences.
- Enameled terra-cotta compositions of fruit and foliage by 15th-century Italian sculptor Luca della Robbia inspired lush green wreaths accented by symmetrical placements of colorful fruit.
- Eighteenth-century English nurseryman Robert Furber's artistically rendered catalogs of flowers and fruit outlined materials that were available during the colonial period.
- A third source--ornamental wood carvings of vines, leaves, acorns, pods, and flowers by 17th-century English sculptor Grinling Gibbons--provided a flowing, naturalistic style that was adopted for arrangements.
Based on those sources, floral designers, aided by some of the merchants and residents of Colonial Williamsburg, began creating wreaths and swags of fruit and greenery for exterior use. The tradition continues today.