Simple, natural look

WASHINGTON – The White House is experimenting with a nontraditional Christmas tree decoration this year – laboratory test tubes.

As part of the “All Things Bright and Beautiful” theme selected for the holiday season, first lady Laura Bush came up with the idea of decorating Christmas trees with fresh flowers.

That left White House chief florist Nancy Clarke with the problem of keeping all those roses, lilies and azaleas properly watered.

“One of my suggestions was that we take a test tube, a regular test tube from any kind of lab, and wrap it with wire,” Clarke said. “We could fill it up with water and actually make a Christmas ornament and still give our flowers a water source.”

It worked, and on Wednesday, when Bush presented 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.’s holiday decorations, flower-bedecked Christmas trees stood in the State Floor rooms.

The centerpiece is the official White House Christmas tree, an 181/2-foot Fraser fir adorned with white lilies, crystal ornaments and white Christmas lights. The tree is so tall the Blue Room’s chandelier had to be removed.

“I think it is one of the most beautiful Christmas trees I’ve ever seen,” Laura Bush said.

She said the White House deliberately took a simpler approach to the decorations, holiday cuisine and the official Christmas card to highlight the elegance of the official residence.

“We used natural and real flowers, fruits and garlands to show how beautiful nature is,” she said.

Associated Press

First lady Laura Bush strolls around the official White House Christmas tree Wednesday.

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