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(Image: Courtesy Kristin McManus)

Holly Hill Orchards brightens the season while keeping a beautiful tradition alive

Though we would argue The Evergreen State dazzles at any time of year, in many ways, this is Washington's time to shine.

And certain businesses, like Holly Hill Orchards in Olympia, know how to beautify the season even more.

In 2011 the Rummel family purchased Holly Hill Orchards, which is now managed by their son John. In order to send customers only the freshest products, the business practices a long-held tradition of cutting the holly, creating the decor, and packing and shipping all on the same day.

With products that "are truly all-American," the holly is grown and processed on the orchard, while the family purchases all evergreen material (noble fir, cedar and pine cones) from local Christmas tree growers. They also purchase wreath wires and boxes locally, as well as accent materials (like juniper), that come from sustainable growth areas.

Rummel explains that the business began with a doctor who was going broke out east during the Great Depression and moved west, lured by tales of the Gold Rush.

"He packed what little he had and moved to Olympia, only to find out there was no money here," he explained. "But he did find riches in the community. He traded his services to local craftsmen to build his home, and he took care of their families. "

Later, once the economy settled, the doctor started gifting what he could back to the community, and they did the same for him.

"What better way than to celebrate Christmas and to be a purveyor of Christmas decor!" said Rummel. "The first trees on our orchard were planted in 1932. The ownership has passed a few hands since then, but has always been family-owned-and-run business. Locally sourced materials to craft, to the best of our abilities."

Loyal customers return year after year, thanks to Holly Hill's unique service and products, with their traditional green holly wreath being a consistent best-seller.

"Being near one of a kind we are part of a dying tradition, and are one of very few left with the arduous task of weaving thorned evergreens into rings of beauty," he said.

Their website features a deep history of holly, enticing images and an online store, and the company uses some charmingly "old-school" marketing techniques, too (via the United States Post Service, they send brochures to past customers and receive mailed orders).

"We also enjoy the voice of every customer who calls and keep orders on the ready for return customers," says Rummel. "Our ordering system caters to the old fashioned and is modernized just enough for the tech savvy."

Loyal customers love the noble wreaths, too, which Rummel says, "smell of Christmas for many, highlighted with our holly, and with incense cedar and juniper too." Their variegated holly wreaths also bring "a lightened flare to the original green and look good on almost any door."

Rummel acknowledges that, because of Covid-19, many have seen major loss in 2020. "Our fundraising efforts for local schools has taken the biggest hits this year," he says, " and our hearts go out to every kid in the world right now."

"But we stand stronger together," he continues, "and by providing our services, we feel others can still touch those they care for, even from afar — safely — with the joy of a gift. Our wreaths can even be for those who have everything they could ever want. The memory of a gift, to a loved one or friend, every time you pass through your door, is perfect."