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Christmas Wreaths: An Old-Fashioned Holiday, Part II

In doing our research on Christmas Tree Farms (see more about that here), we came across a couple of truly unique local wreaths. Handcrafted on the South Coast with care and attention, you gotta pay attention to these. Put them on your door and your neighbors will take notice. (Note: This post was originally published in December 2016. It’s been updated to reflect the 2017 Holiday season.)

David Pomfret

Boxwood Wreath handcrafted by Somerset’s Guy Pomfret (photo courtesy of David Pomfret)

The Real Thing: Handcrafted Boxwood Wreaths

In 1960, the Pomfrets opened a florist in Somerset. That Christmas, Guy Pomfret began crafting boxwood wreaths by hand for his customers. His son David who now runs the florist shop remembers that he could pick out the Pomfret wreaths around town when he was a kid making floral deliveries. “It’s the bow,” he says. “It’s a handmade bow of cranberry red velvet, nicer than anything else you see.”

That’s not the only singular thing about the wreaths. They are made on a moss frame that has been soaked in water. With plenty of moisture, the wreaths last long after the holidays. David says that some customers keep them on their doors until Easter. It’s a way to get through the shortest, darkest days with a little style.

Each wreath is painstakingly crafted with individual boxwood by Guy Pomfret. After a few years of “retirement,” he told David he wanted to start making the boxwood wreaths again. He’s back at it this year. Guy will make each and every one they sell. “It’s a lost art,” David says.

In the late 1990s, David and his wife Jennifer moved to Weinheim, Germany. They lived in the old part of town in a blacksmith’s home dating from the 1700s. On the path to their garden, near the town’s exotic forest, were some boxwood shrubs. David says he knew exactly what his wife would say as soon as she saw the boxwood. “You know what you’re making me for Christmas!” she told him. He remembers making a boxwood wreath for her that year, working out of the bathroom tub. He says, “you can take the boy out of Somerset, but you can’t take the florist out of him.”

He says, “you can take the boy out of Somerset, but you can’t take the florist out of him.”

Their German neighbors were mesmerized by the boxwood wreath. They’d walk by the Pomfret’s home and take pictures. They’d ask David and Jennifer where they found the wreath. David laughs, “I missed an opportunity. I should have sold boxwood wreaths in Germany.”

Instead, he came home in 2002 to take over running the family business. And he’s more than happy that his dad has taken over the boxwood wreaths again.

Check out the wreaths this weekend at Pomfret Florist’s open house on Saturday, December 2, 2017 from noon to 5 p.m.  836 County Street, Somerset. (508) 678-6481. Boxwood wreaths are $49 and up. They also sell handcrafted gifts.

Wreaths with a Coastal Flair

(Photo by Susannah Davis)

The Dandy King wreath
(Photo by Susannah Davis)

Marion landscape designer Susannah Davis first started making wreaths for her friends and family twenty years ago using unusual plants that she had cultivated in her yard. She added Wareham oyster shells to give them a coastal flair.

They were a big hit. So she made them for her landscape design clients. They wanted more. And thus a cottage industry was born. A few years ago, she partnered with Sarah Miquelle of Sarah Brown Studios and they now make over 100 pieces each year: sprays, wreaths and candle rings.

Last year, they shipped to 14 states, as far away as Texas and Washington state. She gets effusive notes from people around the country who love their wreaths. Susannah says, “I’ll have customers tell me, ‘Great Aunt Tillie is SO happy!’”

What makes them so special? Davis uses “wild and wacky” greens with plenty of interesting textures. But she doesn’t tell you exactly what they are. Their very unconventionality is part of the mystery of these wreaths. In fact, Davis offers a competition: “If anyone can tell me the genus and species of every plant in their wreath, I’ll give them a free wreath.”

photo by Susannah Davis

Magnificent Magnolia (photo by Susannah Davis)

Each year, the business keeps increasing. And they keep adding designs. This year, they designed a wreath that showcases magnolia – “people are wild about magnolias,” Susannah says. The original design – with the oyster shells and textured greens – is still a best seller.

One person ordered 12 wreaths this year. “Her whole Christmas list,” Susannah says, “Because it’s the perfect gift. You cannot lose.”

Wreaths are $75, sprays are $50. Orders of 5 or more receive a 10% discount. To order, call (508) 498-4677 or email [email protected]

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Pine’n Fir You – We’ve Got Your Christmas Tree

Photo by Elizabeth Gerardi

Have you always wanted to pick out your own Christmas tree and cut it down right then and there? Me too.

Then, I invariably get distracted by the December lists that multiply all around me. And it’s too late. This year, as a public service, South Coast Almanac is preparing a list to make it as easy as possible to realize your dream. A shout out to Marion’s Eileen Lonergan whose smart idea this was (feel free to email us at [email protected] with your smart ideas for future blog posts).

And remember, this is not just a way to capture the spirit of an old-fashioned Christmas. You’re also supporting local farmers, a very current goal. Just think about the care these farmers took: ten (or more) years ago, they planted tiny little things. They cared for and nurtured them until this point in time. For you. It’s actually pretty special.

So, here you go. Here’s the first list we’ve made in December. Even if you’re not ready to bring your tree home yet, you can go and tag it at most of these places. We put the phone numbers in — we recommend you call them before you go to make sure they still have trees!

Pine Crest Tree Farm, 294 Pine Hill Road, Westport. Remember when Clark Griswold took his family out to the woods to pick out their tree in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation? The kids were not happy. The Griswolds should have gone to Pine Crest Tree Farm where finding a tree is a fun event for the whole family: a treasure hunt for the kids, hot chocolate and cookies and family pictures in front of the sleigh. Open on weekends, 10-4, closed by December 20. (774) 309-0522.

Keith’s Farm & Orchard, 429 Main Street, Acushnet. When I called Keith’s Farm to confirm their information, Sue Santos said, “Oh, yeah. We’re in the same place. It takes a long time to grow these trees!” She and her husband Keith have been growing Christmas trees since the early 1980s. They offer families a hayride around the property so they can find their perfect trees. You can cut it yourself or have one of their attendants cut it for you (but note that if you cut it yourself, it’s by handsaw only). Open weekends through December 18 from 10-4 (except on December 18 when they close at noon).  (508) 763-2622

Bristlecone Farm, 779 Sodom Road, Westport. A local favorite since 1974 when the Farias family started planting Christmas trees. Tag a tree and come back for it, or do it all on the same day (though they don’t recommend you take a tree home too early in the month). You pick it out, the crew cuts and wraps it. Open 7 days a week, 9-4. (508) 636-2552.

Mockingbird Hill Trees, 147 Rhode Island Road (Rte. 79), Lakeville.  The Simmons family has been raising Christmas trees since 1975; Margo Simmons knows adult customers who first came as babies with their families. Mockingbird Hill offers a wagon ride to the fields to look at the trees and, on weekends, they have coffee, hot chocolate and sometimes Santa (he’ll be there 10-3 the first two weekends in December). They’ll cut your tree or you can cut it yourself with a handsaw. Open Wednesday through Sunday, 10-4. (508) 947-6712.

Clark’s Christmas Tree Farm, 4191 Main Road, Tiverton. This is a picture perfect Christmas tree farm. Just take a look at our featured photo above (courtesy of Elizabeth Gerardi whom you can find at New England Belle). After picking your tree, enjoy hot cider and treats in an old post and beam barn. Open Saturdays and Sundays, 10-4, until they sell out. (401) 624-4119.

Patchet Brook Tree Farm, 4484 Main Road, Tiverton. The farm has been in Jean Bento’s family since 1905. Originally a vegetable farm with animals, Jean planted the first Christmas tree over 30 years ago. Now, they have about 15 acres of Christmas trees in all kinds of varieties. They do it all. You get a short hayride into the fields to pick out your tree. They’ll cut it down (or help you cut it down), wrap it, put it on your car and tie it off. “We’re a full service gas station,” Jay Bento jokes. A small shop has hot chocolate and cookies with some honey, candles, and maple syrup for sale. Open weekdays from noon-4, weekends from 10-4. (401) 624-4872. (Hayrides are only provided on the weekends.)

Boughs & Berry Farm, 255 Peckham Road, Little Compton. This farm has been in Elinor Gavin’s family her whole life. Her father and grandfather farmed the land. In 1982, she and her husband Donald planted Christmas trees. Regulars have been coming ever since. Kids love the Charlie Brown Christmas tree hidden away. If they find it, they get a lollipop. Open Fridays through Sundays, 9-4. (401) 635-8582.

Don’t forget the wreaths!

Stay tuned — tomorrow we’ll reveal some special South Coast wreaths.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

And as a treat for reading all the way through, here’s that scene from Christmas Vacation when the Griswolds go out to find their tree in the forest. (“Clark, Audrey’s frozen from the waist down.”) Head to one of our South Coast Christmas tree farms and we promise that you’ll have more fun than the Griswolds.

Happy December!

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A Very South Coast Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving turkeys

We  are so grateful to live in a place where we know where our food comes from, where we can put a face and name to our farmers (and vintners) and where we can actually visit the farms. Check out some of the places that can help make your Thanksgiving plate shine with South Coast goodness.

Copicut Farms, Dartmouth — In addition to their chicken, pork and eggs, Beth & Vince Frary raise turkeys for Thanksgiving. The turkeys are just a day old when they arrive at Copicut Farms and they become very attached to the Frarys. Check them out here having a conversation with Beth. It may be too late to order a turkey for this year, but you can always let them know if you want to order one for next Thanksgiving by emailing [email protected]

Lees Market, Westport  — We love an independent market that stresses local products. Lees is that place. When we have to find a macomber turnip for our turnip hash, we know they’ll have it. (Click here to read about our unexpected introduction to this special Westport turnip.)

Sid Wainer & Son, New Bedford — Everyone knows Sid Wainer & Son stands for great produce. Its New Bedford gourmet outlet store is a great place to pick up your vegetables. But it’s also a place for inspiration where home cooks can learn about new ingredients and enjoy cooking demonstrations. Pick up their special white truffle butter (as seen in “Stocked,” in the 2016 edition) and use it to glaze your turkey a la The Barefoot Contessa (recipe here).

img_0508-1Travessia Urban Winery, New Bedford — Marco Montez has created a wine which totally represents the celebration of a fresh harvest — perfect for Thanksgiving. His Fresh Vidal Blanc is made from grapes picked a few weeks ago in Dartmouth by Montez and his wine club members. It has been fermenting for a few weeks but it hasn’t yet been filtered and finished (so there’s no added sulfites). Available for only a few short weeks in November, Montez pours it straight from the tank right in front of you. Shortly after Thanksgiving, Montez will begin the next stage of the formal winemaking process for the vidal blanc so you’ll no longer be able to get it this way. He’ll be open the Wednesday before Thanksgiving to give folks a chance to get their holiday wines (see here for his usual hours).


Version 2Stone Bridge Farm, Acushnet — You can hardly go a mile on the South Coast without seeing a cranberry bog so finding local cranberries is a breeze. This year, we found ours at Stone Bridge Farm because we love their cute little farm stand. We’re looking forward to checking out their Saturday markets next summer which feature live music on that sweet porch.

To all of our South Coast farmers after a busy season, we hope someone else is cooking a tremendous and delicious feast for you on Thursday.

If you have a special local treat on your Thanksgiving table, let us know in the comment section!

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