POUND RIDGE, N.Y. Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas. If you dont think so, you havent been to Pound Ridge Nurseries lately.
Maintaining a Pound Ridge holiday tradition that has lasted over 75 years, after Thanksgiving the nursery puts away its gardening supplies and transforms into a Christmas wonderland.
This is really a landscaping nursery with vegetables and annuals and potted plants, said General Manager Brady Hayes. But in the late fall, we clean it all out and it becomes a completely different business.
That business is Christmas. The nursery, located on Pound Ridge Road, boasts hundreds of Fraser firs of all sizes for that perfect Christmas tree, as well as hand-crafted wreaths made by what Hayes calls his staff of elves that work out of a special wreath-making building on the grounds.
Our trees come from a grower in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Hayes said. I think they are particularly beautiful this year.
Pound Ridge Nurseries emphasizes high-end quality so all the trees seem perfectly symmetrical and look like something from a Currier and Ives Christmas lithograph. Shoppers will find firs ranging from 7 feet tall for around $85, all the way to 15-footers, which will cost you as much as $950.
Hayes, who has worked at the nursery for 19 years, said the business will sell around 700 trees before the holidays are over.
Actually, we used to sell a lot more, he said. Theres a lot more competition now.
Besides trees and wreaths, the nursery offers an array of winter greens and berries for creating festive garlands and centerpieces.
Some of this stuff we grow ourselves, like the boxwood, Hayes said. Other stuff, like the winterberry is grown locally. Some of the greens we get from Oregon.
The retail store on the grounds, which throughout most of the year is home to hard goods such as house plants, tools, pots and fertilizers, is transformed into something that looks like it would be found on the North Pole next to Santas workshop. Its filled with an eclectic array of tree ornaments and holiday decorations, ranging from miniature Christmas villages to wooden soldiers. The backroom is an explosion of color thanks to the endless displays of poinsettias both red and white.
We get these decorations from all over the world, Hayes said. They come from Poland, Russia, Sweden and Germany.
A visit to the wreath-making building revealed that the wreath builders werent actually elves, but Pound Ridge Nurseries staff members who were practiced in the craft.
We decorate about 450 wreaths a season, said Gerry Caulfield. We do inserts for urns and centerpieces. We do a lot of customized centerpieces and wreaths. We have one woman who every year has us make her a wreath that has roses in it. We also have teams that will go to peoples houses and set up their tree and do all the decorations.
Of course, no Christmas wonderland would be complete without Santa Claus. He pays a visit to Pound Ridge Nurseries every weekend from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. up until Christmas.
We had the same guy [playing Santa] for years since I was a little kid but he had to retire, Hayes said. He was an employee and was quite a character. We replaced him with another employee two years ago and hes really good too.
Every child who visits Santa gets a Norway spruce sapling to take home and plant.
Its become a family tradition for some families, said Caulfield. Generations have been coming here to see Santa. There are a lot of Norway spruces growing around Pound Ridge because of it.
But the fun for kids doesnt end there. Theres a petting zoo as well, featuring sheep, goats and alpacas.
Well, [the kids] cant actually pet them, Hayes said. But they can feed them corn.
Hayes said with Santas arrival, the weekends are always the most hectic for the nursery. He said that next weekend, Dec. 10-11, will be when things really start to peak as people begin to decorate for the holiday in earnest.
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