Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Merry Wreath Makers at The Rocks

Pam Dexter outside the blacksmith shop at The Rocks Estate
There is a small and imaginative band of women who arrive at The Rocks Estate in November, before the hustle and bustle of the holidays has brightened the stark landscape of pre-winter. Armed with glue guns and ribbon, pinecones and berries, these Merry Wreath Makers work as hard and as secretly as Santa’s Elves through the quiet days of November and into the jolly arrival of December.

Their mission: decorate thousands of plain circles of fragrant greens to create beautiful, festive, and whimsical wreaths that will adorn hotel lobbies, covered bridges, and countless front doors locally and across the country.

The Merry Wreath Makers at The Rocks – Pam Dexter, Janet Hill, Bouquette Jones, Hilary Tuite, and Julie Ferland – decorate more than 2,000 wreaths each year. Their creations get shipped to mail order customers, carted to local inns, and picked up by happy holiday shoppers at The Rocks throughout the season.

The wreaths arrive unadorned at the start of November from suppliers in the northern reaches of New Hampshire. These blank slates of green are piled in the former blacksmith shop at the historic Rocks Estate, where boxes of pinecones from Maine, dried statice flowers and canella berries, and yard upon yard of festive ribbon mingle with dusty old carriage bolts and horse shoes sized for working steeds.

Bouquette Jones
Hill wears colorful wreath earrings to set the mood. But they hold off on the Christmas music until around Thanksgiving, when hundreds of wreaths have been decorated and moved to cold storage, and many already sold.

The Rocks’ online shop lists a dozen unique wreath styles, from the best-selling Rocks Traditional Wreath – trimmed with a pretty combination of pinecones, statice, and cinnamon sticks – to the endearing Chris Moose Wreath. But sometimes the Merry Wreath Makers simply follow their whimsy each day, adding berries here and pinecones there, tucking bright red cardinal ornaments and berries into the greens for a pop of color.

Dexter makes all the bows – some 3,000 each year – starting in March and working through the summer to restock before wreath-making season.

Once the wreaths are decorated, they’re hung on wall rails, where Vanessa Francis, who operates as wreath quality control officer at The Rocks, gathers them by the armful to load onto the trailer parked outside. From there, the wreaths are transported to cold storage and hung by style in a barn out back, by the lot that will be filled with fresh-cut Christmas trees come Thanksgiving week.

On busy December weekends two staff members are tasked solely with moving wreaths from storage to the Farm Store, where customers swoop them up nearly as soon as they’re restocked.

For those who like to deck the halls early, The Rocks Marketplace and Farm Store are open daily now through December 24th (closed Thanksgiving day) from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Our Christmas tree lot opens November 22nd, when the farm will also begin Cut-Your-Own tree season and related holiday activities.

We hope to see you soon at The Rocks!

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