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Hills & Dales hosts holiday workshops

On Saturday, Hills & Dales Estate kicked off its annual holiday tours and wrapped up its winter workshops with wreathes, holly and Christmas cheer.

The Hills & Dales Estate is a 13,000-square foot home located in downtown LaGrange that was completed in 1916. The grounds feature a garden with dwarf boxwood parterres originally planted by Sarah Ferrell more than 175 years ago. However, during the month of December, greenery and Christmas decorations cover the home inside and out and pay homage to the home’s history.

“I just think it’s a really special touch that they have that we take greenery from the garden,” said Haley Merciers, the assistant tour program director. 

“It just gives a connection to the home, and then with their workshop entrance, we also give them access to the garden. That way, if they want to go through the house and see the decorations in the house, they only have to pay half price. It’s a really nice way to give people who wouldn’t normally come up or who think that it’s the same thing over and over again a taste of something different.”

Participants in the mixed green wreath workshops made wreaths out of freshly evergreen clippings from the estate, but more than even the wreathes themselves, those leading the workshop said that they saw participants take home good memories.

“I think it’s nice that they get to come and have an enjoyable afternoon creating something,” said Jo Phillips, of Hills & Dales Estate. “They don’t have to worry about cleanup. They don’t have to worry about preparing. Things are ready for them, and it is just something festive.”

Many of the participants in the workshops came with friends or family, and everyone left with their own, one-of-a-kind Christmas wreath.

“There is no right or wrong way to do it, so your creativity is your own indication,” said Kerry Smith, an Alabama cooperative extension agent who taught the class.

Smith showed participants how to cut evergreen pieces to uniform lengths and attach them to a straw wreath with greening pins. She said that she loves watching the creativity of both first-time participants and workshop attendees for whom the workshop is an annual tradition. 

“A lot of people don’t realize that almost everyone has some degree of creativity, and it gives people an outlet for that,” Phillips said. “They are usually so pleased — especially if they’ve never done anything like this before — with what they’ve completed. It is just fun to participate in that creative process.”

Hills & Dales Estate will host holiday tours now through Dec. 28 from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. To learn more about the estate, visit Hillsanddales.org.