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Mahone Bay woman draws inspiration from locally sourced greeneries for Christmas decor

Gail Saker, a long-time volunteer and decorator for the Father Christmas Festival, works at preparing Barb Haley’s historic house for the Homes for the Holidays Tour. Haley’s decor is inspired by nature.
Gail Saker, a long-time volunteer and decorator for the Father Christmas Festival, works at preparing Barb Haley’s historic house for the Homes for the Holidays Tour. Haley’s decor is inspired by nature. - Josh Healey

Bringing the outside in

By Heidi Tattrie Rushton

Every year, Barb Haley’s home in Mahone Bay is filled with the sights and smells of Christmas in the form of evergreens.

“I tend to go overboard on them,” she laughs. “Lots and lots of boughs, decorations on the bannister, greens in the dining room, the living room, the kitchen. I start out by filling any available container and go from there.”

All of her decor is sourced locally, including ditch berries, magnolia leaves and other natural elements that she sees on her land or at local markets.

Haley says that the tradition of gathering the natural elements for Christmas decor
gives her fond memories of her youth.

“I remember, as a child, that our parents would send us outside, to get us out from under, and we’d drag the greens in to decorate with,” she says. “It really is a holdover from that time, and I do love the smell.”

Some years she adds a theme in amongst the greens, such as the year she came across a stash of starfish decorations, or when she and her husband made 30 wooden birds with a jigsaw to tuck amongst the greens.

This year, as part of the display, she’s bringing a boxwood from her garden into her kitchen, continuing the spirit of bringing the outside in.

At the end of the holidays she will move the evergreens back outside to cover her garden and protect it through the winter months. Haley loves gardening and says a big part of her inspiration for decorating with natural elements is to remind her of sunnier days ahead.

“Right now, it’s a season of dark nights and I want to look forward to the spring and planting gardens. Bringing the evergreens in and having nature in the house just makes it feel warmer,” she says.

“I really think we in Nova Scotia are so lucky to have this resource available to all of us and I think having as many fresh greens inside as you can is just comforting.”

Barb Haley’s home is featured in Homes for the Holidays, part of the Mahone Bay Father Christmas Festival. The festively decorated house tour was held Nov. 30. JOSH HEALEY
Barb Haley’s home is featured in Homes for the Holidays, part of the Mahone Bay Father Christmas Festival. The festively decorated house tour was held Nov. 30. JOSH HEALEY

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