If you haven’t driven through Prince Frederick’s Main Street during the holidays, you really need to take that detour, note the beautiful greenery, and then know that each item adorning the buildings and lamp posts were made entirely by hand by our own Calvert County Garden Club.
It’s a tradition that began in 1930 and has continued ever since. On the first Monday in December, the garden club ladies meet at different places throughout the county, with permission, and clip greens: boxwood, magnolia, various pines and firs, juniper, nandina, holly, and other things they can use in their wreaths and garlands. They gather piles of carefully clipped branches onto tarps and haul them to the Christ Church Fellowship center where they’ll meet the next day.
On Tuesday, the magic begins. Tables are set over a tarp covered floor and each garden club member knows what her job will be. They have clippers and gloves and wear green aprons. In three hours, those bags and piles of greens have been carefully put together by nearly 40 ladies to create the things that will “green” Prince Frederick. It’s all volunteer and all the greens are collected, created, and donated by the Garden Club. After a potluck lunch, garden club ladies will come and help county workers to put every wreath and swag up in the Courthouse Square. By the afternoon, it’s completely transformed.
Look around. You’ll see over 30 small wreaths on buildings and in front of the memorials. Larger ones are at the Calvert County Historical Society and the largest one, nearly 5′ in diameter of boxwood and magnolia, is on the Goldstein Building. The entrance to the Courthouse Square has two long “ropes” adorning the brick entryway. Those ropes are made of tiny bunches of greens all wired together around a rope. It’s a difficult process that takes hours of work. Above the old courthouse entry, you’ll see the beautiful Della Robbia.
The Della Robbia is a Colonial Williamsburg tradition from the 1930’s that was inspired by the sculptures of the Italian Della Robbia family. It was the first time that fruit was seen in Christmas decorations in the United States. In the beginning, each piece of fruit was put on by hand each year, a very lengthy process. Now, the artificial fruit pieces are stapled onto a large board and stored like that all year, then tiny sprigs of boxwood are tucked in to make it full.
It’s a wonderful tradition that adds to the spirit of Christmas in Prince Frederick, but set off of route 4, you may have missed it. Take a detour this season and catch it before it goes. May be you’ll find some inspiration for your own holiday decor.