Decking the Halls at Elizabeth Farm

 

Using fresh foliage to decorate for an Australian Christmas comes with a fine timeline to negotiate, as many Sydneysiders will have been experiencing over this past scorching fortnight.

Put them out too soon, and everything will be disappointingly dry and faded on the big day. Hold off for too long, and not so many of your friends and family will get to enjoy the lovely festive atmosphere you’ve created.

We took the plunge at Elizabeth Farm at the end of last week, bringing the outside in to deck the halls, not with boughs of holly, but with a handmade wreath of Chinese elm (one of the oldest trees on the property), branches of hoop pine, and sprigs of Christmas bush. As Elizabeth Farm predates the Victorian tradition of the Christmas Tree, our fresh decorations adorn doors and mantelpieces, and make use of Australia’s abundant evergreen foliage, just as the early colonists would have done, translating their own Christmas traditions to a new and unfamiliar environment.

Another traditional Christmas decoration revived at Elizabeth Farm is the making of pomanders; oranges, studded with fragrant cloves and decorated with ribbon. We’ve got one finished pomander nestled amongst the hoop pine on the Dining Room mantelpiece, but we need your help to make more!

Why not pay a visit to Elizabeth Farm before Christmas, enjoy the atmosphere and our decorations, and have a hand in adding to them. With spikey, fiddly cloves, it’s good festive fun and smells great, but every little bit helps!

Elizabeth Farm is open Wednesday to Sunday until 3rd January, and then every day until 28 January.

  • Woman behind cross-hatched bamboo fence cutting foliage
    Assistant Curator Rebecca Jones cutting Chinese elm. Photo Karina Wright © Sydney Living Museums
  • Woman preparing foliage on green topped table.
    Assistant Curator Rebecca Jones making the wreath. Photo Karina Wright © Sydney Living Museums
  • Wreath of foliage on green topped table
    Christmas wreath ready for decoration. Photo Karina Wright © Sydney Living Museums
  • Wreath hanging on a door.
    Our finished wreath in pride of place. Photo Karina Wright © Sydney Living Museums
  • Closeup of foliage wreath hung by red ribbon from door knocker.
    Wreath detail. Photo Karina Wright © Sydney Living Museums
  • Oranges being studded with cloves.
    Pomander in progress in the colonial kitchen. Photo Karina Wright © Sydney Living Museums
  • Vase of flowers on mantelpiece.
    Christmas bush in the Drawing Room. Photo Karina Wright © Sydney Living Museums
  • Closeup of floral display containing Christmas bush.
     A finished pomander on display. Photo Karina Wright © Sydney Living Museums
  • Floral decoration on mantelpiece with portrait above
    Decorations in the Dining Room. Photo Karina Wright © Sydney Living Museums

About the Author

Head and shoulders portrait photo of young woman wearing a black scarf.
Karina Wright
Visitor Services Officer
Karina's first experience with Sydney Living Museums was at the tender age of eight, when she was asked to squeeze prophylactic lemon juice...

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