Pam Walker, the events coordinator at Sugar Cree Plantation, knows where to look for holiday decorations.
In the yard. In the ditch on the side of the road. In a farmer's field. Beside the paring lot of a downtown law office. in the edge of the woods. Everywhere that grass, weeds, brush and evergreen trees grow.
For the holidays at Sugar Creek Plantation, Walker prowls them all, often with husband Craig, starting with plants just outside their McRae home. Her search continues with a golf cart ride through the piney woods of the plantation. "I have been doing this since October," she said while assembling greenery to decorate interior mantles, door, tables and fireplaces, in addition to exterior doors and windows.
She doesn't actually pick or cut them until a day or two before she's ready to decorate. After cutting - always being careful when she's in a neighbor's yard or some other public place to take sprigs or small branches so their absence is not noticeable - Walker has a preservation ritual. She immerses them completely for a day or two in a small plastic swimming pool, a pail of water or even the bath tub. This year she will also add glycerin to the water or use commercial spray preservatives.
"I cut them in the early morning and soak them that day and the next," she says. "I only take what I know I can use. I don't mess-up or spoil the plant. I try to take a piece that needs pruning."
When decoration a home like the historic "Talmadge mansion" at Sugar Creek Plantation, she is careful to stay in the era - that is, to use greenery and other materials that would have been available when the home was built. This house was built in 1937 for former Gov. Eugene Talmadge, one of only two governors in Georgia history elected to four terms. He and son Herman Talmadge, who served as governor and U.S. Senator for 24 years, are also one of two father-son governors in Georgia history.
Go Green: Let Nature Provide Holiday Decorations
Sugar Creek Plantation.