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Lowcountry Coastal Christmas at the Dollhouse warms the holiday season

December 14, 2018

A visit to the Dollhouse during Christmas at Hopelands will be like a day at the beach.

This year’s theme is a Lowcountry Coastal Christmas, and all the natural elements of the ocean and the shore – shells, starfish, sand dollars, palmetto fronds – will give the Dollhouse the feel of a cozy cottage at Edisto decked out for the holidays.

All that’s missing is a warm, sea breeze.

The Garden Makers Garden Club is hosting the Aiken holiday tradition this year, and Bettye Ralon, the club’s president, suggested the Lowcountry theme.

“We have done different regions of the state before, but we had never done a coastal Christmas,” said Ralon, who also is the vice president of the Aiken Garden Council. “For two weeks in November, people were at craft tables in my living room, and they made 14 and a half dozen shell ornaments - everything on the Christmas tree. I purchased shells when I took trips to Florida, and friends brought me boxes of shells.”

The theme of the tree, provided by Cold Creek Nurseries, is “Under the Sea.”

Snowmen and Santas made of scallop, mussel and oyster shells hang from the tree’s branches. Aqua blue ornaments, hand painted by an artist from North Carolina, depict all the lighthouses that stand tall along South Carolina’s coast.

A pirate’s treasure chest is nestled beneath the tree, and a starfish, of course, tops the tree’s highest bough.

The Dollhouse, originally a playhouse and school for children in the Iselin family who developed the Winter Colony estate, will be open every night during Christmas in Hopelands. The time and dates are 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Dec. 15-23 and Dec. 26.

Christmas in Hopelands features more than 100,000 lights over two miles of lighted pathways and holiday displays that wind through the garden.

Aiken garden clubs decorate different areas of the Dollhouse. The other participating clubs are Cereus Gardeners, Sunshine Garden Club, Country Gardeners Garden Club, Green Gardeners Garden Club and Suburban Garden Club.

Students in horticulture classes at Strom Thurmond High School in Edgefield made wreaths for the Dollhouse, and Rick’s Produce and Garden Center provided cut greenery.

Ralon said the annual Christmas project brings the garden clubs together in the spirit of the season.

“It was so nice here yesterday because all the clubs worked together. They were sharing with each other, and I thought this is truly what Christmas is about,” she said. “‘l’m so excited to do this every year. I feel it’s a gift the garden clubs’ give to the community.”

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