BOYLSTON, Mass. — While the Winter cold has put a chill on many outdoor gardens, the creative spirit is still very much in bloom at Tower Hill Botanic Garden's Holly Days "Fashioned from Nature" exhibit, with garden clubs, organizations and other green thumbs from communities all over the area contributing to the festive displays.
Every year, Tower Hill Botanic Garden’s celebrates the Winter holidays with its Holly Days event, and once again local groups submitted their own hand-made ornaments crafted from natural materials inspired by this year’s glitz and glamour theme — high fashion.
"The exciting thing is the creativity of the individuals, and seeing what they can do," said Michael J. Arnum, Public Relations Director at Tower Hill Botanic Garden. "What they see when they see an acorn is different from what I see, and they are able to turn an acorn, or a pine cone or a branch or a leaf, into a story. And then when you put it all together it's just such a beautiful package."
The creative groups have decked the halls of the visitors center with far more than just bounds of holly, and as visitors stopped in to see all the decorated trees, nature-based jewelry, hats, shoes, and more, they also had the opportunity to vote for their favorites.
Coming in first in the competition was the members of the Millbury Woman's Club, who assembled a dress made from cotton muslin and cotton lace, using dried flowers and leaves as decoration.
This year's second most popular submission came from the Leicester Garden Club, which put together a New Year's Eve themed display that the members began working on in September.
"It was meant to look like this woman was in her room getting dressed for New Year's Eve," said Donna Bottis, president of the Leicester Garden Club.
Eight members of the club helped create a dress using all drying flowers like Queen Anne's Lace, decorating shoes to match, making a dressing table embellished with all kinds of dried flowers and a crown that said Happy New Year's, and a Christmas Tree as well.
"It's really great for our garden club to be together and to really share ideas and share flowers," said Bottis. "The best part of it was everybody getting together and trying to decided what we're going to do and how we were going to use these flowers, and everybody drying different types of flowers and bringing them together.
Last year the club had come in first, and this year the members were happy to still do well, with their display receiving over 600 votes.
"This year we felt that there were so many more people that entered, and so much competition that we were really delighted to come in second. There was some beautiful, beautiful dresses, and pocketbooks and shoes — so we were very proud to come in second.
In third place was Shrewsbury Garden Club's "A Natural Beauty," with the Acton Garden Club receiving honorable mention.
Other notable displays were the Grafton Garden Club's "After the Hunt," which made use of rosemary, honey locust, and cat-tails as well as pheasant feathers, pine cones, and porcupine quills to create a game dinner fit for a hunter.
All of these Holly Days displays as well as a variety of creative Christmas Trees will be on view until Jan. 2 at Tower Hill Botanic Garden, which is located at 11 French Drive in Boylston.
Additionally, as part of the event, Wednesday night the garden will host the harpsichord concert, "Exploring the Color and Shape," by Jonathan Bezdegian.
Bezdegian, a native of Paxton, has been studying music since he was seven, and at fifteen had began playing the organ in churches around Central Mass.
After graduating from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in 2007, Bezdegian began his Masters studies in organ at McGill University, and is now entering his third year of DMA studies in organ performance at the University of Washington.
The concert will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 21.