MOUNT HOLLY – A collection of flowers, bushes and dark leafy greens will soon be transformed into an illuminated Christmas celebration.
The Mount Holly Community Garden will have its fourth annual Christmas Enchantment in the Garden Saturday, Dec. 8, and the venue lives up to its namesake by getting a multitude of ages and organizations involved.
From 5-9 p.m., the garden adjacent to First United Methodist Church will have decorated garden beds among hundreds of luminaries. The parking lot off North Main Street will be full of live music from several artists, including Melodramatic, an a cappella group of Mountain Island Charter School students. There will be food trucks, hot cider, cookies and even a visit from Santa.
“We really take the community part to heart,” said Erin Denison, vice president and wellness chef for the Mount Holly Community Garden Inc., a nonprofit organization.
Throughout the year, the all-organic garden is used by various individuals and groups, such as Ida Rankin Elementary School students who maintain one of the 52 raised garden beds available. It opened in 2015 and serves as a place to grow local, organic, seasonal food and flowers while fostering a healthy environment of activity, learning, charitable stewardship and fellowship, the organization’s website states. It costs $40 to maintain a bed.
There are adjustable adaptive beds for those with green thumbs but use a wheelchair.
As part of the Enchantment event, every bed will be filled with decorations unique to the tending gardener.
Visitors will vote on their favorite setup.
Denison said businesses will compete in a side competition – “all for bragging rights.”
The garden produces between 1,500 and 2,000 pounds of food per year for the Mount Holly Community Relief Organization, which provides assistance to more than 5,000 residents annually.
“Especially in the colder months, this is the only source of produce,” Denison said.
Programs the garden organization holds throughout the year include yoga, a book club and cooking demonstrations.
The third weekend in November, Denison was spreading new gravel to prep for Dec. 8. Some of the decorations are already up for the “McAdenville of Gardens.”
“It’s just a little magical part of the year,” she said.
A Belmont first
The City of Belmont is putting its residents into the Christmas mood with its inaugural Festival of Trees.
Despite having the renowned McAdenville light display to the west and Daniel Stowe to the south, Belmont is getting into the action with 18 Christmas trees down Main Street through Stowe Park, which was renovated in the spring.
“We identified that area was in need,” said City Clerk Jamie Campbell, noting the city is encouraging businesses along that stretch to decorate trees in their stores. “We were trying to come up with unique ideas and wanted to get the community involved.”
Residents of Catherine’s House, a shelter for women and children, lent a hand by making ornaments for the display. And a “tree of hope” has ornaments with quotes written on them. Campbell said people are encouraged to take one if particularly moved by of the quotes.
“Christmas is such a hectic time for everybody,” Campbell said. “This is a way to just take time to celebrate Belmont and get the message out. People don’t know there’s great nonprofits in the area.”
There was a lighting ceremony Saturday, Dec. 1, in front of city hall to kick off the display, which will be up through the end of the month.
Daniel Stowe’s mile of lights
Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden’s annual Holidays at the Garden features an all-new musically orchestrated topiary display and illuminated Piedmont Prairie Garden, along with lights of fire and ice and more.
From 5-9 p.m. through Jan. 6, visitors can take in the 15-foot orchid tree, live music (6-8 p.m. daily), holiday shopping, crackling fires for roasting marshmallows, the Children’s Discovery Trail of activities, warm beverages and more. Food service will be available every night in addition to beverages including coffee, hot chocolate, cider, beer, wine and other spirits.