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Bringing the summer in for Christmas


Story by Shirley Muir and photography by Donna Maxwell


Dried strawberry red gomphrena, pale green sage and tulip shaped Nigella. Photo by Donna Maxwell. W


hile Manitoba vegetable gardeners were preserv- ing and canning a bumper crop this fall, a St. Clements gardener was preparing to bring the


garden in for Christmas and for a good cause. Shelley Molitowsky spends every fall collecting and


drying dozens of different fruits, flowers and vegetables that become the highlights of wreaths, swags, garlands and bowls of potpourri for Christmas. Her dried and preserved treasures have decorated homes


around the province. For the past 15 years, Shelley has welcomed thousands of women into her Perfect Scents workshop and studio to share her collections and her talent for making last summer’s bounty this year’s Christmas centrepiece. But she’s quick to add she’s learned as much from those


women as she’s taught them. “Every woman who’s come here has brought her own


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creative energy and has done something unique that I would never have thought to do before.” An entire wall of the Perfect Scents workshop is lined


with one-gallon tubs each holding a different treasure Moli- towsky has carefully dried. Golden pears and ruby crabap- ples, that a few months earlier were growing right outside the workshop window, fill large containers sitting next to strawberry red gomphrena, pale green sage and tulip shaped Nigella. Over the years she’s discovered that scoring or slicing the


produce different ways leads to a unique effect after drying. Small ornamental crab apples when carefully cut from stem to blossom bottom around the apple, look like tiny pump- kins when dried. Even vegetables like scarlet runner beans and zucchini add different textures and colours to Christ- mas arrangements once dried. Pinecones of every shape and size collected off her acreage


Beautiful Gardens 2015 • 27


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