Natural & Fruited Holiday Appeal: The “della Robbia” Wreaths & Swags Of Colonial Williamsburg

Festoons Of Natural Delights:  Colonial Williamsburg Holiday Wreaths
Festoons Of Natural Delights: Colonial Williamsburg Holiday Wreaths

The holidays always bring forth bursts of color. But perhaps the natural colors of nature laden upon the wreaths of green found upon the historic streets of Colonial Williamsburg in Williamsburg, Virginia, offer hues of vibrant bounty. What is referred to as “A living-history museum and private foundation presenting part of a historic district in the city of Williamsburg, Virginia”, the historic streets offer a walk through yesteryear and a visual delight to the eyes to behold when swagged and bedecked in Holiday style. Williamsburg style. The festive and natural Holiday wreaths of Colonial Williamsburg seem to inspire a simplicity of elegance. Wreaths and swags reminiscent of yesteryear. The wreaths that grace the historic structures of Colonial Williamsburg are bedecked with all things natural such as festoons of fruit, flowers, boughs of holly, fans of apples, oranges and pomegranates and other natural embellishments of visual delight.

Elements of nature found in the borders and decorative motifs of these wreaths of evergreens hold distinctive and enduring appeal.  Historically, the swags of fruited appeal that have decorated America’s front doors and exterior spaces is linked to the beginning of the 20th century.  Paired with the significance of Christmas and the Colonial Revival, it is believed that these fruited decorations harkened back to the decorative styles of the eighteenth century. Yet the custom of affixing fruits, vegetables, dried flowers, herbs, and other natural details to evergreen wreaths, swags, and roping has often been referred to as “Colonial Williamsburg Door Decorations”.  A practice that was adopted and adapted by Colonial Williamsburg had popularized the fruited and bedecked natural appeal of holiday greens. Designs fashioned from boxwood and magnolia greenery paired with imports by the colonists of pineapples, lemons and oranges from the West Indies, would have longstanding impact on the celebration of Christmas within the Southern state of Virginia and beyond. The mere cause of admiration of these fruit laden wreaths and swags have drawn throngs to view their annual natural display. On a recent holiday in Virginia, I too, was drawn. From behind the lens I was struck with admiration and appreciation at the simplicity of bounties of nature in grand display of elegance and artistic display from nature’s gifts itself.

House Beautiful, Circa 1926
House Beautiful, Circa 1926

“Of late years, besides the staple wreaths of plain greens to which we have long been accustomed, the holiday’s emblems have blossomed forth,–or perhaps we should say fruited forth,–with richness of color produced by the use of either natural or artificial fruit as an embellishment. This idea was undoubtedly suggested by the gorgeous Italian carvings and terra cottas of the Renaissance…”
-1926, House Beautiful

The quote from the 1926 magazine issue of House Beautiful is said refer to the fifteenth-century Italian sculptor from Forence, Italy, Luca della Robbia (Luca della Robbia (1399/1400–1482)  who became “synonymous with fruit and foliage swags on glazed terracotta roundels”.

Lucca della Robbia (1399/1400-1482) Italian Sculptor
Lucca della Robbia (1399/1400-1482) Italian Sculptor

Of note, during the 1700‘s Sculptor Grinling Gibbons also produced festoons of fruit and flowers on architectural detailed wood carvings and decorative motifs for English cathedrals and English royalty. Yet it is “della Robbia” that is given the credit for the emulation of fresh fruit laden wreaths that inspired and were popularized in the mid 1930’s within the rich history of Colonial Williamsburg.

Grinling Gibbons (1648-1721) Dutch-British Sculptor & Wood Carver
Grinling Gibbons (1648-1721) Dutch-British Sculptor & Wood Carver

In the early years of the Colonial Williamsburg restoration, visuals of these fruited swags and wreaths would spread across the country through images in decorating magazines. Thousands of visitors, fascinated by the imaginative and natural decorations, continue to pay homage every year to the idyllic setting festooned in greens and natural delights of holiday beauty. Interesting, it was 1936 when Colonial Williamsburg first decorated for Christmas. At that time it is said to have been merely the simple greenery of plain wreaths with running cedar (a low growing evergreen) that would adorn the the Governor’s Palace and the Raleigh Tavern. Yet the embellishment of fruited appeal would embark upon the green decorations with longstanding impact. Credit is given to a “Mrs. Louise Fisher”, responsible for the decoration of Christmas in Colonial Williamsburg,  who is said to have brought pictoral examples from the Library of Congress of English and American decoration styles to guide her in her feat. By 1939 the “della Robbia” wreaths of Mrs. Louise Fischer had deemed the phrase the “Williamsburg Christmas look” and the embellished wreaths of natural appeal was forever launched. What would soon become a serious contest within Colonial Williamsburg, complete with blue ribbons affixed to the houses of five to ten winners, would become the “Christmas Decorations Tour” in 1969.  The contest continues. Decades of fruited and natural appeal, indeed.

With appreciation from behind my lens….a visual of natural delight in festive appeal….

Bedecked In Natural Style
Bedecked In Natural Style
Colonial Williamsburg Holiday Traditions:  Fruited & Natural Appeal
Colonial Williamsburg Holiday Traditions: Fruited & Natural Appeal
Colonial Williamsburg: Fruited Holiday Appeal
Colonial Williamsburg: Fruited Holiday Appeal
Evergreens & Nature's Delights:  The Wreaths Of Colonial Williamsburg
Evergreens & Nature’s Delights: The Wreaths Of Colonial Williamsburg
Nature's Embellishments In Festoons Of Holiday Style
Nature’s Embellishments In Festoons Of Holiday Style
Colonial Williamsburg: Natural Delights In Holiday Embellishments
Colonial Williamsburg: Natural Delights In Holiday Embellishments
Holiday Emblems Of Colonial Williamsburg:  Bedecked Greens
Holiday Emblems Of Colonial Williamsburg: Bedecked Greens
Fruitful Holiday Appeal:  The Wreaths Of Colonial Williamsburg
Fruitful Holiday Appeal: The Wreaths Of Colonial Williamsburg
Evergreen Wreaths & Swags Of Timeless and Natural Appeal
Evergreen Wreaths & Swags Of Timeless and Natural Appeal
Embellished Greens With Fruit Laden Appeal:  Colonial Williamsburg
Embellished Greens With Fruit Laden Appeal: Colonial Williamsburg
Swags Of Evergreen & Natural Fruited Delights:  Adornment Of Colonial Williamsburg
Swags Of Evergreen & Natural Fruited Delights: Adornment Of Colonial Williamsburg
Elegant & Artistic Display:  The Wreaths Of Colonial Williamsburg
Elegant & Artistic Display: The Wreaths Of Colonial Williamsburg
Holiday Decoration  Of Colonial Williamsburg
Holiday Decoration Of Colonial Williamsburg
Embellished With Nature In Colorful, Artistic Array: Colonial Williamsburg Wreaths
Embellished With Nature In Colorful, Artistic Array: Colonial Williamsburg Wreaths
Williamsburg Wreaths:  Embellishments Of Timeless Appeal
Williamsburg Wreaths: Embellishments Of Timeless Appeal

Consider with appreciation the festive wreaths and swags of enduring appeal. Graced with fruit and other natural elements, such as holly berries, seed pods, pepper berries, eucalyptus, pine cones, magnolia leaves and other wonders of nature, the decorations offer a visual appreciation of the blessings of nature. Upon the historic structures of Southern architecture and charm, the visuals  have impacted since.

And of myself strolling the streets of Colonial Williamsburg yearning to capture the essence of the visuals of exuberant and festive holiday style embellishing this historic setting?  Enamored. With a love for history and architecture paired with an appreciation of the natural and elegant delights that bedecked the surfaces of this quaint historic town, my camera continued to frame and capture.  Yet the visuals I set before you, from behind my lens, reflect only a sampling and a mere moment in time within the seasonal surrounds of Colonial Williamsburg. Captivating in the moment, indeed…

Onward,

Kristin

Myself, 2014/Williamsburg, Virginia
Myself, 2014/Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia
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Autumnal Glory Of Nature: Ornamental Indian Corn

Ornamental Indian Corn:  Nature's  Colorful Appeal In Autumn
Ornamental Indian Corn: Nature’s Colorful Appeal In Autumn

Autumnal glory of nature. Ornamental Indian corn. Autumn heralds the arrival of the decoration of ornamental Indian corn. The hard kernels of various colors and Autumnal hues offer distinctive impact of timeless appeal when found on display decorating table tops and doorways during the Autumn season. Perhaps it can be said that the Fall harvest and its offerings would not be complete without the appearance of Indian corn. Ears of Indian corn in Autumnal jewel tones of distinction. Termed as “any primitive corn having ears with kernels of various colors”, it is no wonder that these hard kernels offering a multitude of color have become a visual of Fall.

Autumnal Delights: Ornamental Indian Corn
Autumnal Delights: Ornamental Indian Corn

Historians link the origination of these colorful ears of corn to China, India and South America. It was not until the 15th century that the kernels and husks of colorful delight would travel around the globe via explorers and traders. The name “Indian corn” is said to have been taken from the indigenous natives of North America who originally cultivated it. Of interest, rather than decoration, Indian corn was ground to make flour. Who knew? Although the kernels themselves are hard, the ears with larger kernels are now typically used for flour or cornmeal production, while those with small, pointy kernels are perfect for popcorn. Indian corn varies in ear size, kernel, husk and stalk color. The most common husk colors are ivory and purple. Visual delights, indeed. The term “Flint Corn” (hard, and like stone) would also reference these jeweled ears. Yet in most countries this hard corn is known as “Indian corn” or “Calico Corn”, which is the same species as Indian corn but a different variant of maize. Oh, the calico colors! It is interesting to note that the Indian corn that we recognize today are several hybrid varieties that have been developed within the last 50 years. These calico-patterned or speckled varieties of Indian corn are the result of cross-pollination of single-shaded plants. In addition to the multicolored ears, there are also solid ears in shades of red, gold, yellow, reddish brown,dark purple, white, ruby, blue and even black. Bold, colorful and unexpected hues of Autumnal delight, indeed! With hard outer layers, each colorful kernel endures to delight with Autumnal appeal. The unusual texture and composition of hues go far in providing Autumnal interest when brought into our interiors or used as decoration in events. Calico patterns of delight, indeed…

Decoration Of Autumn Within The Interior:  Ornamental Indian Corn
Decoration Of Autumn Within The Interior: Ornamental Indian Corn
Kernels Of Autumnal Color:  Ornamental indian Corn
Kernels Of Autumnal Color: Ornamental indian Corn
Entertaining & Decoration With Indian Corn
Entertaining & Decoration With Indian Corn
Colorful Autumn Delight:  Ornamental Indian Corn
Colorful Autumn Delight: Ornamental Indian Corn
Autumn Holiday Entertaining With Indian Corn
Autumn Holiday Entertaining With Indian Corn
Holiday Decorating: Autumnal Hues Of Indian Corn
Holiday Decorating: Autumnal Hues Of Indian Corn
Indian Corn & Husks Of Decoration:  Autumn Delights
Indian Corn & Husks Of Decoration: Autumn Delights

Consider the decoration of Indian corn as the Autumn season settles upon us. The hues of Autumn are sure to provide us with seasonal enjoyment when embellished within our interior and exterior spaces. A natural visual in bringing the outdoors in and a focus on nature when gracing our exteriors. Autumnal glory of nature, indeed…

Onward,

Kristin

“A light wind swept over the corn, and all nature laughed in the sunshine”
-Anne Bronte

The Glory Of Succulents: Ornamentals Of Distinction

Texture & Color:  The Distinction Of Succulents
Texture & Color: The Distinction Of Succulents

Succulents. Distinctive desert plants that are grown as ornamentals due to their striking and unusual appearance. Distinctive, indeed…

The definition of the Succulent plant is one that has “Fleshy tissues that conserve moisture”. In botany, plants known as Succulents or “Fat Plants” refer to having parts that are “thick”, “Fleshy” and “swollen”. Unique, thick and plump leaves of style. Nature’s answer to a plant life that requires the need to retain water in arid climates or soil conditions. Of interest, these low maintenance succulents can also store water within various parts of their structure, including the leaves, stems and roots. There are four categories of Succulents which refer to the location of water storage: Leaf Succulents, Stem Succulents, Root Succulents and lastly, Caudiciform Succulents (which store water at soil level in stems or roots). Of additional interest, in horticultural use, the term “Succulent” often excludes “Cacti”. However, in botanical terminology, cacti are considered succulents. Interesting. Perhaps it is best stated that “virtually all cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti”. Who knew? Certainly, beyond what is presented here, there is a great saturation of information linked to these horticultural plants of interest.

The history of the succulent is said to date back over 25 million years. Within the last 5,000 years, additional succulents of great style have appeared at the surface of our world. Ancient history stated, there are over 10,000 species of succulents that have adapted to varied weather and growing conditions. Again, who knew? For certain, these old-world plants that thrive in full sun and arid conditions provide us with beauty and distinction to grace our world with.

Clusters of deep mauve, magenta, green, blue, taupe and gray succulents are an absolute delight for our visual senses. Restrained beauty in rock gardens, borders and containers, succulents are a hardy “bloom” that adds color and dramatic texture with a seeming exotic flair. Scale, texture, color and interest. The glory of the succulent, revealed

Desert Plants Of Distinctive Appearance:  Succulents
Desert Plants Of Distinctive Appearance: Succulents

And of the incorporation as a decorative element within the interior? Again, delight. When tastefully arranged, the rosettes of the succulent world are of long lasting stature, indeed. Vibrant and muted color with a luscious appeal.

Ornamentals Of Delight:  The Allure Of Succulents Within The Interior
Ornamentals Of Delight: The Allure Of Succulents Within The Interior

And of its perhaps unexpected appearance at celebrations and events? A memorable moment paired with nature, incorporated into a moment of a lifetime. Life’s joys of nature, indeed…

Wedding Bliss With Succulent Style
Wedding Bliss With Succulent Style
Celebrations WIth The Beauty Of Succulents
Celebrations WIth The Beauty Of Succulents
Succulent Style:  The Adornment Within The Interior
Succulent Style: The Adornment Within The Interior

Consider with appreciation the simplicity of nature that the succulent offers to our exterior and interiors. Survival strategies paired with unique ranges of shapes, colors and textures that enhance our interior and exterior spaces, the beauty of the succulent is certainly long lasting. Distinction with long lasting glory, indeed…
Kristin

Natural Arrangements Of Green: “Moss” Within The Interior

Nature's Appeal:  "Faux" Green Moss
Nature’s Appeal: Green “Moss”

The softening layer of the vibrant color and texture of “Moss”….
Oh, the depth and richness of color that moss provides! Lush green in natural form. A burst of sublime color when included as an natural element of decoration within the interior. Of interest, “Moss Green” is a color tone of green that is said to resemble moss. The first recorded use of “Moss Green” as a color name in English was in 1884. Certainly, a history of this hue’s appeal has continued onward. The appeal of moss and its rich color has not faded, but has remained a distinctively bold, yet soothing and timeless color. And of the actual moss that the color refers? A majestic and glorious addition to decorate our spaces while anticipating the arrival of the Spring and Summer Seasons or as a natural element that provides visual enjoyment and color throughout the year.

Botanically, mosses are non-vascular plants in the land plant division Bryophyta. A flowerless and rootless plant that provides a visual calming effect, these small (only a few centimeters tall) herbaceous (non-woody) plants absorb water and nutrients mainly through their leaves while “harvesting sunlight” and creating life through photosynthesis. Harvesting sunlight, indeed. Perhaps moss can become a visual reminder of the sunshine that will spill onto our surrounds with Spring’s arrival. These elements of nature, that require a shady, moist location to encourage growth, are elements that often attract our attention when found in nature. We can all imagine the coolness of the moss when found in its natural environment. The soft, carpet-like appeal of this natural and moist element of nature is visually tranquil and alluring. A tuft of velvet in texture, “Moss” is certainly to be appreciated out of its element…

"Moss":  Botanical Herbaceous Plants Of Green Allure
“Moss”: Botanical Herbaceous Plants Of Green Allure

The incorporation of a form of this element into our interiors can make a stunning impact when a needed reminder of Spring beckons. The blending of “Moss Green” elements of nature in a sophisticated and effortless display provides a surge of inspiration through its color and natural form. Reminders of the Seasons where the world around us grows. The growing season is certainly ahead. Why not add the varieties of green hued shades of Moss? Delight in the color and saturation of intensity in shades of green that “moss” offers by adding elements of green into your interior.

"SUPERMOSS" Moss Balls:  100% Natural Moss
“SUPERMOSS” Moss Balls: 100% Natural Moss

“Supermoss” refers to moss balls made from 100% natural moss. These distinctive spheres of hand-crafted moss are stunning additions within the interior. Fresh and perhaps an unexpected form of decor, the round spheres of organic appeal are certain to bring the awakening of the world outside us within our interiors. Lush green balls in graduating sizes, covered in dramatic display of geometric greenery with moss are perfect additions of natural style…

Reindeer Moss:  Tufted Lichen Of Nature
Reindeer Moss: Tufted Lichen Of Nature

“Reindeer Moss” is described as a gray, erect, tufted lichen (Cladonia Rangiferina) that forms extensive patches in the Arctic and north-temperate regions. Constituting as a large part of the food of the Caribou (who knew?), it is also referred to as “Reindeer Lichen”. Bursts of dyed “moss green” color of this natural “Reindeer Moss” provides a perfect addition of color and texture with a botanical display of green allure

Color & Texture:  "Faux" Moss & Reindeer Moss
Color & Texture: “Moss” & Reindeer Moss
"Super Moss"  Balls  & "Moss" Of Bright Green Style
“Super Moss” Balls & “Moss” Of Bright Green Style
Thoughts For The Arrival Of The Growing Season....
Thoughts For The Arrival Of The Growing Season….

March has arrived. As the world around me remains white and snowflakes are still gently falling from the Wintry sky, I yearn for the color green and those natural elements that represent it. Spring will arrive, and the embellishments of green moss within the interior will serve as a visual reminder. In fact, “seasonless” reminders. And within my interior? Natural Arrangements of Green, of course. “Moss” arrangements. Sublime style, indeed.

Kristin