Few retail rituals herald the spirit of the season more than gathering the goods to “deck the halls,” and nothing quite compares to the local nurseries with barns and heated tents on their grounds devoted entirely to the trappings of Christmas.
Larger-than-life displays, along with fresh-baked sweets and hot cider, all mixing with the heady aroma of fresh-cut evergreens, can be an intoxicating sight and scent in recalling the yuletide spirit.
Cathy Klein, owner of River Hill Garden Center and its Christmas Shop, possesses that spirit in spades, and she’s eager to pass along the merriment to her customers.
“From traditional to whimsical, we love discovering the latest trends and sharing them with local families,” she says.“It’s not just ornaments or lights, but rather collections of handmade items, large focal pieces, exquisite silk flowers and fun figurines all arranged to motivate even the novice.”
Novice or otherwise, visitors can roam the different themed areas (eight to 10 this year) inside one very large building.
“People come out and say, ‘You did such a beautiful job,’” Klein says. “I think most women appreciate the time involved in doing all that decorating.”
Inside, each of the decorated trees is for sale, and her collection of holiday decorations and collectibles is legion. On the shelves and nestled within delightful vignettes, her inventory includes Elf on The Shelf figurines, Byer’s Choice Ltd. carolers and a complete selection of Department 56 village pieces, many of them animated. If you can name it, chances are Klein will stock it — or something very close. Her vignettes overflow with angels, glass figurines, mangers, nutcrackers, crockery, international dolls and Russian-carved Santas.
Outside, the greenhouse overflows with pots of poinsettias, amaryllis, cyclamens and a variety of cut trees.
“We have women in the greenhouse who take custom orders for wreaths, garlands, mantel pieces, chandeliers and baskets, using either fresh greens or silk sprays,” Klein says.
Add the holiday music, the cider and the peppered jellies, and it’s little wonder the folks at River Hill are keen to share the beauty of the decorating tradition with all who visit this season.