Working with Mel Day of Dogwood Tree Floral, I helped decorate the NC Governor's Mansion again this year; the 11th year in a row and 13th time I have been fortunate enough to be involved in working at the mansion during the Christmas season. It is the best place in NC to work and we love doing it. When a new administration is voted into office, you never know what will happen - or whether you will even be chosen to do the mansion again. Mel has been fortunate to decorate the Governor's Mansion for Gov's. Hunt, Easley, Purdue and now Gov. McCrory, and I worked during the time of Governor Martin and Gov. Hunt's first term ( under the aegis of Grady Wheeler), as well as all the rest. It is a blessing and we are very fortunate to have been allowed to do it.
Every year I relate how well they treat us and make us feel welcome and appreciated. The new staff did not shirk their duties in that respect and we enjoyed meeting them and learning more about them during the 3-4 days we were there. The food is good too; they are nice enough to feed us lunch every day while we work there. On Monday we had pot roast with carrots, onions and potatoes. Tuesday we had grilled chicken breasts with potatoes and al dente green beans. Wednesday they served blackened catfish with cheesy polenta and collards cooked with ham, and cornbread. The desserts were excellent: chocolate sundaes, carrot cake with cream cheese icing and angel food cake with blueberry sauce. An added attraction were the chocolate chip cookies and cinnamon rolls right out of the oven......to die for!! Sweet tea and fresh lemonade are available all day. Do you blame me for loving that place?!
The trees are all set up and lit before we get there. The staff gardener selects the trees himself from a tree farm in the NC mountains, brings them back to Raleigh and supervises the setting up and lighting of the trees. The fellows who light the trees for us are workers at the mansion from the local prison, called trustees. They always do a good job putting on the lights, and that is the foundation for a wonderful looking Christmas tree. They also help to decorate the trees, as few of our women volunteers want to climb the 15 feet tall ladders in order to place the bows atop the tall trees.
They set up our work area in the mansion's gorgeous ballroom - didn't I say it was a great place to work?! Tarps cover the beautiful, shiny wood floors, tables are set up for us and all of the previous years supplies and ornaments are brought down from the attic. The gardener cuts greenery and branches from the mansion grounds, and we order a few things that are not available there, such as flat cedar and boxwood. In previous years, we have also used dried hydrangea from the mansion grounds.
Many of our previous Governor's and/or their wives (and husband) have liked a lot of glitz and glitter, but the current couple prefer natural elements; fresh greenery, garlands and berries to make up the bulk of the decor. It was a refreshing change after so many years of metallics, glitter and crystals, and to be truthful, it is more in keeping with the Victorian architecture of our Governor's Mansion.
I am posting the photos in no particular order - there are too many of them to get them in the proper order.