September 25, 2018
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On a Limb

A Christmas tree with flower power
Marianna Wright proudly stands in front of her 2015 tree as her schnauzer Oscar admires her work.

Decorating Christmas trees is an event many look forward to around the holidays. Some may wait until after the celebration of Thanksgiving to pull out boxes of glass or handmade ornaments, while others eagerly set up trees in early November. Traditions for decorating range from modern themes to those practiced in the Victorian age.

For Marianna Wright, the Christmas tree that sits in the front room of her home on Roosevelt Street — one of several trees she puts up and decorates every year — showcases beautiful flower blooms and fills the air with the fragrance of lavender and eucalyptus.

Wright started the practice of filling her eight-foot, lithe artificial tree with dried flowers 10 years ago. She cannot take credit for the idea, she says; that goes to Doug Patberg.

“When he owned the Olde Saltbox Blooms & Heirlooms (off Green River Road), he had a tree there with dried flowers,” she explains. “I loved it. He said someone had already bought it, but he would make one for me.”

Patberg ordered the tree, decorated it, and delivered it to Wright. She enjoyed the display so much, she says she called him again the following year to do another.

“He was too busy, but I figured I could be able to do it,” she says.

Armed with the telephone number of Mary Ellen Damm from Timberview Flower Farm, Wright set out to collect the dried flowers for her tree. Dotted with baby’s breath, roses, cockscomb, delphiniums, lavender, eucalyptus, and more, the flowers are illuminated with white lights Wright strings on the tree. Even without the lights, however, the flowers create a unique, colorful pallet with splashes of purple, pink, yellow, and red.

“There’s no rhyme or reason to it,” says Wright with a smile. “I go through one flower at a time, just placing them, then I stand back and see where I need some red or lavender or such to get a good distribution of colors.”

She stores the flowers after the holiday, just like other Christmas ornaments, but always buys fresh baby’s breath, lavender, and eucalyptuses.

“It’s just a simple little process,” says Wright.

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