Petersham Nursery in Richmond has long been one of my very favourite places. Sitting on the edge of fields leading down towards the river and Richmond town centre, the nursery is an oasis of calm, filled with beautiful homeware, sweet smelling plants and delicious coffee and cakes served in the greenhouse cafe. I had the most marvellous afternoon the other day browsing their stunning collection of Christmas ornaments and picking up a few new ones. I’m getting very excited about decorating a tree for the first time I’ve been in London! That’s right, I’m getting a Christmas tree for the first time in about 9 years. Finally, I’ve got the space and time to be able to get one and decorate properly – I can’t wait!
Even without a tree, I’ve always kept a tradition of buying one Christmas ornament a year from somewhere special (generally Liberty!). I started doing this with my Mum ever since I read the Betsy-Tacy books as a young girl. Are any of my American readers familiar with these novels? Written by Maud Hart Lovelace in the fifties, this series of books follows the story of Betsy Ray and her friends (Tacy and Tib) growing up in Minnesota, from Betsy’s first days at school to her first year of marriage. They are utterly charming and made a huge impression on me as a young girl (I still reread them regularly!). In Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown, there’s a charming description of Betsy, Tacy and Tib going shopping for Christmas ornaments with each other as part of an annual tradition (you can read the relevant excerpts here). Ever since reading that book, I’ve started keeping the same tradition, and much of the joy is in finding beautiful places for my ornament shopping.
Petersham Nursery provided the perfect setting for me to get thoroughly into the Christmas Spirit. Fairy lights sparkled from the ceilings, ornaments glinted in the gathering dusk and the scents of blooming jasmine and spiced apple juice from the cafe mingled in the air. It was truly glorious.
The ornaments were all so beautiful, I had a very hard time picking just one, and in the end came away with about four, which felt quite restrained considering how many I wanted to buy. I can’t wait to decorate my tree now, and I’m thinking it might be fun to plan a little party to mark the occasion. Are any of you getting a tree this year? Do you have any traditions associated with decorating it?