Garden club masters of colonial Christmas

Published 6:52 pm Wednesday, November 28, 2018

BATH — Tuesday, the women of the Historic Bath Garden Club went to work, creating Christmas décor of yore.

The group is tasked with beautifying the Bath State Historic Site homes for the holidays, prepping them in colonial style for the site’s annual Christmas open house on Saturday.

With pine, magnolia, boxwood, fresh fruit, dried flowers and more, 20 colorful wreaths were wrought along with pine and magnolia swags for the exteriors of the circa 1751 Palmer-Marsh House, the circa 1835 Bonner House and the circa 1790 Van Der Veer House.

The greens are donated, some from long-time garden club member Margaret Midgette.

“She has a lot of boxwoods, so the majority come from her,” said Linda Betham, one of the club’s presidents. “George Chrismon, owner of Garden Classics, goes out and finds a lot of it. He knows where the stuff is located and knows where he’s allowed to cut.”

The goal is to decorate the homes in the most historically accurate way possible. In colonial days, that meant using nature’s bounty. Foam florist’s wreaths are the only modern piece of the wreath, barring the hand-cranked Steelpix machine that wraps a pick around stems to make the evergreen sprigs easier to attach, and stick, to a wreath. Once a base of evergreens forms a leafy wreath, color and texture comes with fresh lemons and apples, globe thistles and berries, pinecones and lotus pods.

The Historic Bath Garden Club was started in 1979 and its members have been working to beautify North Carolina’s first town since. Saturday’s open house from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. includes free tours of the historic site houses, and a harpsichord, woodwinds and vocal performance by the Ad Hoc Players at the Palmer-Marsh House, followed by the town’s annual Christmas tree-lighting ceremony, held this year at Bonner Point, along with the Bath Christmas Flotilla, a candlelight tour of historic site homes, performances by the River City Ringers handbell choir and members of the Beaufort County Choral Society, a reading of “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” caroling, refreshments — all starting at 5:30 p.m. and ending with a “Silent Night” sing-a-long just before 9 p.m.