Sunday, December 4, 2011


Being in both Germany (Mainz) and France (Paris) last week was a wonderful experience- especially at Holiday time. 

The Christmas Markets we toured in Both Mainz and Paris is something we don’t see here in Canada- at least not in the Orillia area. Perhaps near Kitchener-Waterloo Christmas Markets exist- such as they do in Germany, because of the German Heritage. Remember that Kitchener was once Berlin, Ontario! 

In Paris, the Market stretched along the Champs Elysees. All the buildings were chalet style and painted a brilliant snow white. Spruce trees along the avenue were flocked white. Coloured rings that reminded me of large hula hoops hung from lamp posts and trees, their auras changing constantly. Most corners featured blue and white lights on trees and lit Christmas ornaments were in adundance in fountains and on walkways and Paris’ main shopping concourse. 

In the Mainz market thousands of white lights hung from trees and were suspended overhead. A huge advent whirligig/pyramid stood guard at the entrance while a life-size nativity scene was on display outside the Dome Cathedral in Mainz Market Square.
With all the history and tradition, it’s pretty hard to beat Paris and Mainz. 

Here at home when Tom and I lived in Mississauga, we made a yearly trek to Cullen Country Barns. The barns were torn down years ago to make way for development. That same fate eventually gobbled up Cullen Gardens and Miniature Village-although the City of Oshawa bought the whole village and has it in storage.
Too bad.
It was quite the display. 

Back in the late 80’s Weal and Cullen Garden Centres was a magical place at Christmas. We bought an 8 foot Cullen Country Supreme Spruce Tree one Christmas and it gave us service for 19 Christmases until the artificial needles began to drop- just like a real tree. Weal and Cullen’s decorations were beautiful and it was hard to browse and not make a purchase. Of course, Weal and Cullen no longer exists today.  

Another store that was loaded to the brim with holiday decor during the Christmas Season was White Rose. We always browsed White Rose during the Holidays Now, that store no longer exists across the country. 

There’s no shop in Orillia that comes close to those heady days of Weal and Cullen.Canadian Tire in Orillia has a terrific display of trees this year. So too- Home Depot.
Scott’s Garden Centre on Coldwater Road has the heady smell of Christmas with fresh fir and spruce. It’s not huge but it’s worth a visit. It’s just not the same as the huge space that both Weal and Cullen occupied.

Then, on the weekend we asked a friend to come with us for a drive to Barrie- like most Orillians, to make our first pilgrimage ever to Bradford Greenhouse Garden Gallery.
We all were absolutely blown away! 

There had to be 50+ decorated trees throughout the massive complex- all indoors. The fresh trees and garland were in a glass-roofed area of the store. When we walked through the front door, the heady fragrance of spruce and pine merrily slapped us in the face and memories of “real” Christmases of the 50’s and 60’s came flooding back.

Artificial trees of all shaped and sizes were stuck in every corner of the store. Some trees priced at over 1000 dollars. Beautiful, lush holiday arrangements gushed and draped over the edges of colourful cast iron urns. We bought a bright and shiny, holiday red urn for just outside the front door. It was so beautiful we couldn’t resist. We’ll make our own arrangement. 

At the base of every of the several dozen heavily ornamented trees, ornaments for purchase were kept in baskets overflowing with decorations. It was so easy to choose favourites from the trees. 

After walking for an hour or more there was a corner of the gallery that was absolutely beautiful. I was on Christmas overload. It was all so beautiful I could hardly believe it.
It took my breath away!
It practically brought tears to my eyes.
I had trouble taking it all in- like a 5 year old on Christmas morning. 

There was a myriad of trees all placed around the perimeter with a dark walnut dining room table anchoring the centre of the display. Ornaments featuring deep earth tones accented with copper, gold, velvety greens and burgundy covered the trees.This corner display was spectacular! I could barely catch my breath as I looked at each tree- some 12 feet tall!
I said to a sales staff standing nearby that if I were a “rich man” I would tell you to pack up everything and send it along to my house. Alas, I am not rich so I had to choose a half-dozen or so ornaments to add to my “romantically” themed parlour trees at home. 

Yes, I said trees. I have two Christmas trees bookending our fireplace all decked in gold, deep greens and burgundy with a whole lot of sparkle and wide translucent ribbons of burgundy, green and gold wrapped through the branches. Several hundred white lights twinkle from the decoration laden branches.
Beautiful- if I do say so myself!
There’s another tree in our Keeping Room heavily accented in red, branches covered with 500 white lights- some blinking and twinkling.
I love that tree too! It just seemed to come together so well this year- and I decorated before going to Europe since it would be December when we arrived home. 

This blogl sounds like one big commercial but if you’re lacking the Christmas/Holiday spirit this season, I guarantee that you will get in the spirit quickly with a tour.
Give yourself a few hours to see everything.
We’ll have to go back again.
There’s just too much to see!
Help yourself to a coffee and a small bag of popcorn when you make a donation to help the less fortunate this Holiday Season. 

Of course, Bradford Greenhouse and Garden Gallery is a business and everything is there for you to buy- even birdhouses, candles, framed prints, scarves, ribbon, wrapping paper and more but I’m sure you are quite welcome to browse. Items are nicely priced and I saw Christmas bobbles priced anywhere from $1.99 to $199 and more. 

However, if you just feel the need to browse don’t say I didn’t warn you- it will be difficult not to purchase something. Even if you invited old Ebenezer Scrooge along for the afternoon you’d be hard-pressed to leave empty-handed!