Christmas in the garden

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ST. CROIX - The St. George Village Botanical Garden will launch the holiday season with its biggest fundraising events of the year this weekend.

The White Christmas Gala and Auction gets under way at 6 p.m. today and "Christmas Spoken Here," a family friendly event, is scheduled for Sunday.

Tonight's gala features a live auction, a silent auction, entertainment by Bill Bass and a dinner catered by Anton Doos and the culinary arts students from the St. Croix Career and Technical Education Center.

The auction offers a variety of items that were donated for the cause, from trips and specially decorated Christmas trees to art work, gift certificates, and personal items like jewelry, yoga lessons and massages.

Volunteers and local artists have spent hours decorating to transform the Great Hall at the garden into a holiday wonderland. Ten designer-decorated Christmas trees are among the items on offer for the live auction. Those trees are often then donated to organizations like the Queen Louise Home for Children.

The trees include "Flower Power," a homage to the blown glass artwork of Dale Chihuly. This tree uses flowers made of hand-painted "up-cycled" water and soda bottles to make flowers reminescent of Chihuly's designs.

There is also the Artistree, decorated with almost 100 miniature tropical paintings donated by a number of St. Croix artists; and the Origami Tree, entirely decorated with paper origami and kirigami ornaments.

There is even a wine tree, adorned with decorated wine bottles, and trees sponsored by Diageo and Cruzan Rum.

Tickets for the gala are $125 per person. There may still be a few available, and anyone interested can call 692-2874 today to check availability.

On Sunday, the garden will throw out the welcome mat for those seeking a family friendly holiday celebration.

Christmas Spoken Here, scheduled from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., will include live music and vendors selling food and drink, artwork, jewelry, crafts, books, pottery, and more.

The garden's bar will have special drinks for sale and the nursery and museum store will be open all day. There will also be a White Reindeer Sale under the pergola at the Visitors' Center.

The designer-decorated trees auctioned off on Friday will remain on display for Christmas Spoken Here on Sunday. A raffle will be held for a final designer-decorated tree, featuring fusion glass ornaments by local artist Jan Mitchell, on Sunday, with tickets $5 each.

Santa Claus is also scheduled to make an appearance and the event will feature activities for children.

Entry to Christmas Spoken Here is $5, with children 12 and under free.

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