Local garden clubs spent the day Monday decorating the Dollhouse in Hopelands Gardens for the holiday season.


Each club was assigned a section of the house, like the library and kitchen, and a country and decorated it according to this year's theme: Christmas Around the World.


For instance, the Country Gardeners decorated the library using elements reflecting their assigned country, Japan, such as origami, kimono silks and geisha figurines. The Cereus Gardeners were assigned Africa, the Garden Club of Aiken had Mexico, the Garden Makers had England, the Green Gardeners had Poland, the Suburban Garden Club had Germany and the Sunshine Garden Club had Australia.


“Poland uses apples and nuts in their decorating,” said Kathi Darwin as she helped decorate the kitchen.


Later, she displayed a Santa figurine near the sink, and said Santa is known as the “Star Man” in Poland.


“He represents the star in the East that said Jesus is born,” she added.


Cindy Pearce and Suzanne Bibb strung a garland of Polish letters that their research shows spells “Merry Christmas.”


The Cereus Gardeners used items like tribal African masks and giraffes in their decorating.


The Dollhouse will be open every night during Christmas at Hopelands for visitors to tour.


Cereus President Ginny Sherman said thousands of people visit the Dollhouse during the annual Christmas event.


“It's a very enjoyable experience. It's fun to see the expressions on the kids faces, and it gives us a chance to tell the history of the Dollhouse,” she said.


The Dollhouse was the former playhouse and schoolhouse of the Iselin children. Hopelands Gardens was once the private estate of Mr. and Mrs. Oliver C. Iselin, who later bequeathed it to the City of Aiken. The Dollhouse was ordered by the Iselins from a Sears & Roebuck catalog.


Members of each club will act as hostesses in the Dollhouse during Christmas at Hopelands.


The event begins Thursdayand will run through Dec. 27 with Christmas Eve and Christmas Day closings. The park will be open from 6 to 9 p.m. nightly, with special concerts at 7 p.m. For more information, call the City of Aiken Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department at 642-7631.