Ten years ago, Nehrling Gardens planned a free nature-themed community event with some amaryllis bulbs and a few vendors.
Today, the 10th Annual Holiday Amaryllis Festival has grown to include food, music, children’s crafts, a variety of plants, and many more vendors and visitors. Angela Withers, president of Nehrling’s board of directors, said people anticipate the event each year so they can purchase their amaryllis bulbs for themselves and for gifts.
“They want to get the special amaryllis bulbs,” she said. “They are a wonderful Florida plant; you see them full force at Christmas, and then you stick them in the garden, and then in the spring there they are.”
Vendor booths will be set up and offering a variety of plants and other items. Participants include Nehrling Gardens, selling blooming and boxed Amaryllis, a variety of garden plants and holiday items in the gift shop; Amaryllis Spectacularis, offering unique and rare amaryllis bulbs; Russell’s Bromeliads, with air plants, succulents and bromeliads; Hicks Orchids, with orchids and orchid supplies; Roger Kipp, selling folk art holiday gifts and artwork; David Bloodgood Pottery, offering hand-thrown glazed pots and other items; Seminole Springs Herb Farm, with organic herbs and antique roses; and Backhaus German Bakery & Deli, selling sandwiches and traditional German baked treats.
“One wonderful addition in terms of vendors is Wild Birds Unlimited, and they are the fabulous company that sell the best bird feeders, bird seed, all your special squirrel-proof bird feeders,” Withers said.
Folks can visit with the owls and raptors from Avian Reconditioning Center Birds of Prey at the lakefront from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.; and attend a program on Culture, Care & Hybridization of Amaryllis by Theresa Schretzmann-Myers at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Dragon Bamboo will host children’s eco-activities and eco-education. Lenore Eastham, a retired Orange County Public Schools art teacher, will offer a craft station with a take-home tooled foil ornament that can be hung inside or outside. Children can make peanut butter pinecone bird feeders to take home and hang in their trees, too. David Chomanics, a resident caretaker at Nehrling, will set up his Florida Ecology Outpost and share his amazing collection of bones, bugs and other natural items.
There will be holiday music from the Olympia High School strings students, raffle drawings and photo opportunities throughout the gardens.
Nehrling is supporting two charities and collecting items from guests who wish to contribute — non-perishable food for the West Orange Christian Service Center and unwrapped toys for the Winter Garden Police Department’s Holiday Gifts for Kids program.
Nehrling Gardens is open to visitors from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Open garden days are held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the first and second Saturdays of each month, and community members are invited to drop by for a tour or volunteer on projects.