Sunday, November 11, 2012

Back to normal...sort of.

By: Casey Calhoun, White House Organic Gardener
From: The White House Gardener Mysteries by Dorothy St. James

Every four years it happens. Since this is my first year here, it's the first time I witnessed it first-hand. What was it?

The craziness of election season.

I'm glad it's over. (Aren't we all?) For weeks both the President and the First Lady have been traveling from state to state. Anything that needed to get approved by the East Wing was put on hold.

That's all well and good for some things. But plants and planting seasons wait for no one. Thankfully, with the return of the First Family, life is slowly returning to normal for the White House staff. And we're all glad of it. November starts a busy time of year for everyone!

In a few weeks, the day after Thanksgiving, volunteers from all around the country come to the White House to help decorate for Christmas. What a chaotic, but wonderful, time that's going to be!

In 1973, the Nixon administration opened the doors of the White House to volunteers to help decorate for the Christmas season. It's a tradition that has continued every year, including this year. While it's too late to volunteer to help decorate this year's Christmas display, it's not too early to inquire about next year.

Want to try it? Write to the First Lady and explain to her why you'd be a good choice for helping decorate. You can include pictures of past Christmas decorations that you've helped to create, suggestions for creative decoration ideas (like the paper trees and Bo pictured below). In August, the East Wing goes through the letters and invite a select group to submit formal applications. Good luck!

What are some of your favorite decorating traditions for Thanksgiving and Christmas?

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Dorothy St. James writes the White House Gardener Mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime. Flowerbed of State is the first book in the series. Be sure to grab your copy while they're still available! Visit with Dorothy on the web.

"Credible characters, a fast-paced plot, and a light look at political life in Washington, D.C., will delight cozy fans." ~ Publishers Weekly
Order Flowerbed of State from your favorite bookseller. 

Praise for The Scarlet Pepper:
"Itching to get out there and dig in the dirt, but don’t quite have the energy to pull yourself up off the couch?  Read The Scarlet Pepper by Dorothy St. James.  It’s a heckuva whodunit, and it’s practically gardening via proxy – what better compromise could you hope to find?" ~ The Season Blog

"A potboiler of homicide, blackmail, journalism, power and sex - but one that St. James handles with taste as well as verve - “The Scarlet Pepper” fulfills the promise of last year’s series debut, “Flowerbed of State,” and then some." ~ Richmond Times-Dispatch 
 Order The Scarlet Pepper from your favorite bookseller.

Coming April 2013:


  1. We're kind of busy in Threadville in the months leading up to Christmas, but maybe some of our Threadville tourists can hop in their bus next Christmas and make the drive to DC. They'd have a ball! And those of us who have to stay home and look after our shops can make some of the decorations and send them along on the bus... Whee!

    Sophie and Natasha, yoo hoo! You'd be great at this.

  2. Thank you for recognizing my talents, Willow. I would indeed love the opportunity to decorate the White House for Christmas. I suspect they're easy to work with since they're professionals and they won't force me to use all those tired old holiday colors like red and green. I'll get to work on this immediately. Thank you Willow and Casey, for bringing this opportunity to my attention!

    ~ Natasha