Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas Countdown – Day 6

Taking A Holiday Break – Tea Time

One of the things we have to remember, in the midst of all of the holiday hoopla, is to schedule in time for a little respite from the decorating, shopping, baking, shopping, wrapping, more shopping . . . well, I’m sure you can relate.  It doesn’t have to be like flying away to a tropical island, although, that might be pretty nice with our recent weather chill! 

I look for places, within an hour’s drive, and where there might be a special activity to share some one-on-one time with a friend.  It’s easy to let the holidays overtake our schedules, but I treasure the gift of companionship, more so than having a pile of gifts under the tree. 

Today, I met my friend, Davetta, for an afternoon holiday tea at Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens, in Belmont, NC.  (Belmont is home to Belmont Abbey College and the Belmont Abbey, which has housed Benedictine Monks since the late 1800’s.)  The Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden is a 450-acre world-class garden located southwest of Belmont.  Daniel J. Stowe, a retired textile executive, set aside the property and established a foundation to develop the garden. The first gardens opened to the public in 1999.

I’ll delightfully take you on a photo tour of my afternoon.  It was a great escape and the tea was wonderful, too! 

203770445Greeting us, in the main hall, was a beautiful 16’ tree.  From a distance, I could tell the colors of the decorations perfectly suited the stained glass dome, above it.

203769781A closer look at the dome.  I almost felt as if I could be in a basilica, instead of a botanical garden! 

IMG_20101205_142851As we approached the tree, I realized it was created entirely of live orchids and ferns!  I couldn’t count them all.  Luck would have it, the plaque to the left told the story.  More than 300!

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I wish I had brought a better camera but I wanted to travel light for the tea.  All of these were taken with my Droid phone’s camera, with the exception of the top photo.

1291577455975There was a vast display of urns and wreaths.  They were sprinkled in the jeweled tones of the orchids.

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A couple of side rooms held more treasures.  We had a few minutes before our tea was served so we took a sneak peek!

1291578324909Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens often hosts weddings and events.  This stately room was open at the time of our tour.

IMG_20101205_144406 1291578316255My photo is a little fuzzy.  The flocking on the tree reminded me of stories my husband would tell me about how he and his father and brothers would head to the tree lot, each year, and wait while the “snow” was added to a large spruce tree.  In the south, it’s rare to have snow at Christmas, so this was the next best thing! 

1291578425275 The tree was loaded with ornaments.  Christmas is the one time of year when less isn’t more, in my book!

1291578403214I wonder how many little ones have to be pulled away from the pile of presents?  It’s just too tempting!

1291578257629The theme was carried to sconces, flanking the side of the china cabinet.  Lusciously lovely!

1291578781031 And then there was the tea!  Four different kinds!  Vanilla Chai Spice, Berry Fruit Cocktail, Chocolate Rooibos, and Sugar Plum.  The ladies from Savannah’s Room certainly know their tea and shared a lovely tutorial.  The tea sandwiches were delicious and the scones were absolutely delectable with lemon curd and clotted cream.  I swooned!

IMG_20101205_165741Although not a part of our tea, I just had to photograph these fun Rudolph cupcakes being sold at another part of the venue.  They were from Brenda’s Cake Gallery and they looked mouth-watering.  (The exception being that I was still sated from the tea treats!)IMG_20101205_162739After the tea, Davetta and I toured the orchid conservatory.  Since the temperature was in the low forties, the warmth was most welcome.  A veritable tropical get-a-way!  (Almost like that island idea, I previously mentioned.)

1291585030652 A different kind of window shopping.

1291584879102A purple bromeliad was nesting cozily in the verdant foliage. 

IMG_20101205_164020  I loved this red mesh lantern!  It was one of many hanging throughout the conservatory.

1285510391933Look what was circling the tracks!  They really covered every detail for the attendees’ interest.

1291585807866You might be wondering how wisteria could still be blooming.  The ingenious designers clustered purple lights to appear as blossoms.  As it became darker, the pergola took on a magical twinkle.

IMG_20101205_171956  It must have taken months to cover so much territory.

1291587957108 A holiday wonderland!

1291587975383 For kids, big and small!

IMG_20101205_170406  Back indoors, we enjoyed many trees decorated by local schools.

IMG_20101205_143601How proud the students had to be to see their handiwork!  (The cardinal is our state bird.)

1291588161364 As nightfall arrived, all I could think of was this:

~But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."~

Merry, Merry! ~ Wanda

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20 Days and Counting! ~ All my best! ~ Wanda

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