A (Williamsburg) home for the holidays

October 31, 2004|by KATE COLEMAN

By the time the Christmas holidays arrive, Clark Taggart doesn't have too much time or energy for decorating his own home.

"I'm usually exhausted," he said. He compared his situation to the story of the shoemaker's children who have no shoes.

On Monday, Nov. 8, Taggart, floral manager/designer of Colonial Williamsburg's (Va.) Floral Design Studio at the Williamsburg Inn, will create floral designs he said people can do. He'll demonstrate making arrangements for the entryway, dining table and mantel, and provide ideas for festive touches throughout the home.

"You don't have to buy the most elaborate thing," he said.

His program at Hagerstown Community College's Kepler Theater, presented by the Town and Country Garden Club, begins at 9:30 a.m.

In the restored 18th-century town, Taggart is busy year-round creating floral arrangements for the world-renowned hotel as well as the complex's Colonial Houses and other public lodging properties. Lightfoot House, a residence for visiting dignitaries and heads of state, also receives his creations, as do weddings, receptions and special events. He and his two staff members created 150 arrangements for a three-day event last spring. "You create a concept and decor within the tent," he said.


"The world comes to Williamsburg," Taggart said, adding that visitors have included "everyone from Tina Turner to Margaret Thatcher."

His Hagerstown program will focus on the use of natural plant material to create floral decor for the home influenced by what has become known internationally as "the Williamsburg style."

That style of decorating is really a 20th-century interpretation that started with the Colonial revival in the 1930s, Taggart said. Fundamentally, that means using natural native plants that are available, he explained.

The pineapple, the 18th-century symbol of hospitality, was available in Colonial America, Taggart said. But he questions whether many people would have used the fruit in decorations.

Taggart, who grew up on a 25-acre farm in New Windsor, Md., said he always wanted to work in the arts. As a boy, he raised rabbits and sheep and competed in 4-H horticulture events. His career combines both interests.

Taggart is a graduate of Threave School of Horticulture in Castle Douglas, Scotland, and holds certifications from the Royal Horticultural Society and the City and Guilds of London. He worked at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pa., after returning from the United Kingdom in 1979, and he's been in Williamsburg since 1980, working for five years in landscaping at Colonial Williamsburg and for a "society" florist before assuming his current position.


Holiday decorating tips - Williamsburg style

· Select hard-skinned fruits, lemons, pomegranates and apples.

· Cut greenery in the morning when plants have maximum amount of moisture in stem. Soaking in the bathtub helps to clean and rehydrate foliage.

· Always condition foliage and fresh flowers to prolong life.

For woody stem material, cut 1 inch off bottom of stem and place in hot (not steaming) water. For floral products, cut minimum of 1 inch off bottom and place in water warm enough to put hand in. For delicate stems and bulbs (tulips, etc.), cut 1/2 inch off bottom and place in cool room temperature water.

· Keep floral decorations away from drafts, out of direct sunlight and away from electrical appliances.

· Keep arrangements well-watered. Misting with water aids in keeping foliage fresh.

- Source: Clark Taggart

If you go ...

Town and Country Garden Club presents Clark Taggart, floral manager/designer, Colonial Williamsburg's Floral Design Studio at the Williamsburg Inn

9:30 a.m. Monday, Nov. 8

Kepler Theater

Hagerstown Community College

11400 Robinwood Drive


Tickets cost $15. For reservations, call Jennifer Driscoll, 301-733-3853.

The Herald-Mail Articles