Do you have a green thumb? Are you dreaming of a white Christmas?
“It is a fabulous 25-acre estate,” executive director Kate Markert told WTOP. “It was Marjorie Merriweather Post’s estate. … She was the daughter of C.W. Post as in Post Cereal, a very wealthy woman but also a major businesswoman, philanthropist, art collector … who created beautiful gardens that very much relate to the art inside her 26,000-square-foot mansion.”
Folks are invited to take a holiday walking tour of the mansion and grounds.
“Every year for the holidays we decorate trees in the house and in our visitor’s center,” Markert said. “Since there are four trees in the mansion and there are four seasons … why not have it be ‘Seasons Greetings’ so that you then look at each one of the seasons as expressed as a Christmas tree in the mansion?”
Indeed, the entry hall tree is decorated for fall, the dining room tree is decorated for summer, the French drawing room tree is decorated for spring, and the pavilion tree is decorated for winter.
“We used permanent botanicals,” floral and event decor designer Ami Wilber told WTOP. “They all represent flowers or trees that are on property, so everything should look like it came directly out of the garden or from the property. Then in the visitor’s center … everything is in these beautiful jewel-toned colors that match the natural gem stones that are in the exhibit.”
Take a deep dive with the “Virtual Holiday Decor Tour” on Dec. 8 from 10:30 to 11 a.m.
“That is Amy actually giving you a personal tour of the trees,” Markert said. “She is taking you through the house virtually and explaining how she came up with the genesis for the design of each tree, what are the things she used in it, and how you might be able to do something similar.”
Wilber will also host the live annual workshop event “Floral Design How-To: Holiday Blooms” on Dec. 9 from 6:30 to 7:15 p.m. and again on Dec. 11 from 1:30 to 2:15 p.m.
“That is Zoom,” Wilber said. “We also have the option for people in the D.C. area to come pick up the materials. These workshops are how to create a floral design for different themes. This one we’re doing as a holiday theme, so it’s going to focus a lot on greens that you see in wreaths or in swags, then incorporating flowers with the season theme as well.”
You can also watch actress Natasha Mirny portray the Snow Maiden in the online family program “Winter Adventure with the Snow Maiden” on Dec. 12 from 11 to 11:45 a.m.
“For our Winter Family Festival, we usually have in person the Snow Maiden and she usually interacts with visitors, but of course we had to translate that into a virtual experience,” Markert said. “Families will be able to hear the story of the Snow Maiden and Father Frost and will be able to interact with her live virtually in real time.”
It’s all timed with the release of the new hardcover book, “A Garden for All Seasons: Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Hillwood,” which runs $50 for a potential holiday gift.
“It’s a fabulous gift for any gardener on your list,” Markert said. “The first half of the book is an essay illustrated with lots of archival material that show how the garden was put together. Then the second half of the book is a photographic essay by a marvelous photographer named Erik Kvalsvik. We had him come photograph the garden over two years through every season.”