Garden Club celebrates green Christmas at Fair

Dec 3, 2022

On the third day of December, the Wareham Garden Club gave to me… 14 handcrafted felt mice, some with hand-sewn costumes, all acting out quaint holiday scenes. Some wore tiny earmuffs and rode on “skis” made of tongue depressors. Others pulled sleds. Others still were dressed as gardeners. Barbara Smith made a mouse Santa Claus, while Donna Greenwood made “Ernest,” a caroling mouse.

“He goes through the house at midnight on Christmas Eve,” said Greenwood, who acknowledges how fitting her surname is for a garden club. “Not a creature is stirring, except for the mouse.”

The mice flew like Santa’s reindeer off the shelves at Saturday’s annual Christmas Holly Fair, which filled St. Patrick’s Church Hall with the smells of fresh-cut winter greens, lavender sachets and hundreds of Christmas cookies homemade with secret family recipes. 

“The imagination is incredible,” said Elaine Botelho, who decorated the lavender sachets with images of Christmas trees. “This is the way I like mice. I don’t like real mice. Mice always try to keep going in my basement!” 

Her love of gardening came from her childhood in Atlanta, picking roses and tomatoes in her grandmother’s garden. She now passes on the love to her grandchildren, planting peas in March so they can pick them in June. She plans to plant her greens in pots outside her door.

“You can put a candle in it, you can make an advent wreath with it,” she said. “Nothing beats the fresh smell, and the needles are so healthy. There’s nothing like live plants and live greenery compared to plastic.” 

Once Garden Club members collected the greens from their yards and A.D. Makepeace properties, they made them into wreaths in Connie Wiliszowski’s garage. 

“It puts you in the mood for the holidays,” Wiliszowski said, “and it’s fun with all the smells. You wear gloves, you get sap all over you, but it smells great.”

The Club sold 30 wreaths and 25 swags in the Fair’s first 90 minutes. 

Not all of the wreaths were green. Christine Heywosz leads a group of Garden Club members in making wreaths out of driftwood and seashells. Heywosz collects pieces of driftwood in “secret places” ranging from Massachusetts to Florida, soaks them in bleach, dries them and mounts them to a frame in a decorative pattern. 

“I just can’t believe a piece of driftwood on the beach,” said Heywosz, wearing a Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer sweater. “It’s beautiful. Each piece is so different. I find beauty in all of them.”

“It has lots of wear on it, just like we do,” said Mary Zinno, who called Heywosz the “master” of driftwood wreaths. “It’s a metaphor for life.”

Heywosz said that the Club’s success comes from the fact that they do everything together.

“It’s a teaching and learning club,” she said, “and a friendship.” 

The money raised from the Fair will go to the Club’s maintenance of local gardens and scholarships for Wareham High School students.

“Everyone can enjoy the fruits of our labor,” said Fair Chairperson Chris Damiano.