Garden Club of New Jersey volunteers decorate the NJ Governor's mansion Drumthwacket in holiday finery to support the holiday Open House tours each December. For several years (before Covid paused the program), the Keyport Garden Club was honored to be invited to participate. We all hope that 2021 will mark a return to the Holiday House tours, and that Keyport will once again be beautifully represented. You can help!
Please gather flowers, plants and grasses for use in decorating the NJ Governor's mansion, Drumthwacket. Using natural materials from our beautiful Bayshore town as the backbone of the arrangements is a theme. See below for ideas on what to gather, how to gather and dry, and what comes next.
Soon, decisions regarding the tours will be made, the themes will be announced, and a schedule pulled together for Keyport Garden Club Drumthwacket workshops. That's where our volunteers plan, design and build the floral masterpieces that will decorate the room to which we are assigned as part of the Holiday Tour program. Keyport Garden Club will decorate The Foyer for 2021!
The raw materials used for this project include LOTS of Keyport plants, grasses and flowers. In the picture at right, lovely Keyport hydrangeas are prepared and ready for use in arrangements to grace the mansion.
What sorts of plant materials are needed?
Anything that could survive some "handling" in the fall is ideal. Among the ideas our Drumthwacket team has suggested (flowers, foliage, grasses, cones):
Hydrangea Crepe Myrtle Celosia Sedums Grasses with feathers Artemesia
Thistle Lotus Pods Money tree Pine cones Coneflower Astilbe What else?
As the decorating is begun, fresh greens are also gathered. The team combines these dried and fresh materials with ribbons, images, and so much creativity! See images below to see finished arrangements on display in the Governor's mansion.
How to harvest, dry and store?
Cut the flowers that still have color or look good and are firm.
Take them with long stems.
Gather the stems in small groupings, them and hang them upside down in a garage or other place that is out of wind. Cold is fine.
When it's time to use the materials, the committee may color spray the dried materials lightly to enhance their color. They use temporary colors for hair, as it does not damage the flower heads.
Some more links and info you may find useful:
A link to vase drying hydrangeas - very interesting! Keep the stems LONG for this project.
Specifics for drying sedum flowers - great article!
Nice info on preserving many summer flowers from our friends in Vermont.
This article talks about drying crepe myrtle, echinacea, and more.
Here's a nice video on drying grasses for use in arrangements.
A few additional hints:
Ideal time to gather is within 24 hours of rain (or give them a good drink the night before you will cut them). This gives the plants the best chance to avoid being brittle when dried.
Once workshops are scheduled, and a location for storing your contributed materials is identified - we'll send an email to Club members, and update this page.
Beautiful grasses from our lovely town make a great addition to the arrangements used.
Many summer plants and grasses retain their colors beautifully as they dry. And many take on a lovely vintage look. All good!
Hint: the team has found that crepe myrtles hold their colors beautifully, although they do lose their moisture and get "crinkly." Handle them with care - and you will be rewarded with vibrant colors that last all year!
Every kind of hydrangea and flower and grass are welcome - the more shapes (cones, globes, graceful arches) the better!
From plants to greens to historic artifacts and other elements that are purely Keyport, the Drumthwacket house tours introduce so many NJ people to our wonderful town!
The Club is assigned a room in the mansion, and the arrangements compliment the beautiful spaces.
Not just for the Drumthwacket project - but for your own lovely home during the winter months!