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Inspired By A Song

Posted on 11/06/2013 by Jean Sexton

“I guess I’m just not a poinsettia person,” Lucinda Ledford said, “nor an amaryllis person, either. That’s why I went in for so many roses.” Lucinda’s affection for roses may have earned her the name “Rose Queen” from her team members in Biltmore’s Floral Department, but that’s okay with her. “I’m still in awe of Christmas at Biltmore,” Lucinda continued. “Everything is so beautiful and there’s so much choice—it’s overwhelming!”

With just seven months under her belt, Lucinda is the newest designer on Biltmore's design team and this is her first time to get up close and personal with the holiday decorating process.

“It was wonderful to partner with Susan Partain on the Music Room,” Lucinda said of her experience with another floral designer who’s been part of the team for many years. “She was so knowledgeable, and it was a great learning experience. We took our theme from The Holly and The Ivy Christmas carol and worked in lots of natural elements, with plenty of reds and greens, just like the song describes.”

Some of the greenery that Susan and Lucinda used was taken from trees and shrubs on the estate, just as the Vanderbilts and their staff might have done in 1895. Biltmore’s floral team has “cutting privileges” in the gardens and among the trees, and they take their job seriously, being careful not to overcut branches or harm fragile plantings.

Lucinda Ledford decorates a Christmas tree in the Damask Room.

For the Damask Room, Lucinda dreamed up a design that reflected what this year’s theme meant to her personally. “Christmas is all about family and friends,” she said, “so to decorate the tree, I collected lots and lots of picture frames and put snapshots in them. I tried to find candid shots of the Vanderbilt family, and Cornelia Cecil and her sons. In one of their travel photos, Mr. Vanderbilt is making a funny face while everyone else looks serious.”

To add natural elements that also worked with this year's "Nature of Christmas" theme, Lucinda used floral touches composed of dark oxblood red roses and fresh greenery. She completed the warm, welcoming look for this guest bedroom by including a candy tray featuring sweets that were popular in the late 1800s. Lucinda searched online for different candies from that era, then printed the wrappers and made up the candy bars so the treats would look authentic.  It is those extra details that make these holiday designs so unique.

“When guests come through in awe,” Lucinda said of her decorating experience this first year, “it lets you know you did it right!”

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