Thursday, December 27, 2012

Garden Visit: The Magic of Christmas at Longwood Gardens, DE

For many years I didn’t really appreciate the awesomeness that is Longwood Gardens. Maybe that’s because I grew up within driving distance of it and visited many times through the years. Within the past few years I’ve come to appreciate what a truly amazing place it is. It really is massive when you consider the size of the outside space along with the conservatories and the diversity of plants is pretty mind-boggling. It used to bug me how manicured everything is all the time. Maybe now that I know how much work goes into making a garden look like that is why I stand in awe of its absolute perfectness. I can’t even imagine how many hours of hard labor goes into making it what it is on a daily basis.

Longwood Gardens is a great place to visit no matter what time of year. Pierre S. du Pont sure knew what he was doing in creating this stunning place. The Orchid Extravaganza is particularly cool to see each year. But nothing beats the magic of Christmas at Longwood. Nothing. It shines like a sparkling jewel.

Every Christmas the grounds of Longwood are bedazzled in an array of sparkling lights. What better way to get into the holiday spirit? This year, however, it wasn’t such a great night to be exploring outside. It was rainy, windy and cold. This also caused me not to get many photos outside. Plus, I haven’t mastered night photography yet.

The main fountain garden lit for Christmas.

The conservatories are always decked out in gorgeous Christmas displays. This year the theme is stars. As you enter the East Conservatory you are greeted by a beautiful, monochromatic, white tree surrounded by white flowers. The white theme is carried throughout the East Conservatory.

The East Conservatory with a white theme this year.
A white “carpet” in the East Conservatory.
More white decorated trees.
A white standard poinsettia.
Three white-themed trees at the end of the East Conservatory.

The highlight this year was the long table in the sunken Exhibition Hall. The sign explained, “Longwood’s Christmas celebration dates back to December 23, 1921, when our founder Pierre S. du Pont and his wife, Alice, hosted parties for the families of Longwood employees—featuring a spectacularly decorated Christmas tree, gift giving, and holiday music. In tribute to this tradition, we’ve created an elaborate holiday display featuring a 64-foot-long table with a moss runner, preserved roses, vases of winter-flowering begonia (Begonia x hiemalis ‘Barkos’), white moth orchid hybrid (Phalaenopsis), brake fern (Pteris cretica var. abolineata), and silver willow branches.”

The 64-foot-long table in the Exhibition Hall sits on a grass island surrounded by water.
The beautifully arranged table.
White moth orchids.
Decorations on the table.
The gorgeous Christmas tree at the end of the table in Exhibition Hall.
Red poinsettias, white lilies, and red berries of Winterberry Holly bordered the room.
Moss wreath with white moth orchids on the wall of Exhibition Hall.

At the end of Exhibition Hall is the Music Room, which was, of course, decorated for Christmas.

The music room.

The Main Conservatory contains hanging poinsettia plants, lovely Christmas trees, and various forms of poinsettias with other exotic flowers mixed in.

The Main Conservatory.
A Christmas tree and white poinsettias in the Main Conservatory.
Red lilies, white poinsettias, and Christmas trees in the Main Conservatory.
White poinsettias with a streak of blush pink next to pink orchids.

Even the Children’s Garden is sprinkled with holiday happiness here and there.

The Children’s Garden.

A wire frame tree form decorated with various flowers, greens, and white moss in the Mediterranean Garden.

A festive tree in the Mediterranean Garden.
A close-up.

A monochromatic red wreath along the way.

Simple and elegant.

The Children’s Holiday Trees are in the Estate Fruit House. Local students designed and made hand-crafted ornaments on three foot tall Fraser fir trees using this year’s star theme.

Colorful suns adorn this Fraser fir.
Natural materials in star and planet shapes.
Kumquat tree with ornaments made of twigs spray-painted white.

The Fern Passage is lit with glass orbs of light.

A glass orb light inside a palm.

The Cascade Garden had what looked like air plants placed on wire frame balls with lights.

The Cascade Garden.
More of The Cascade Garden.

Moravian Stars hang in the Rose House.

Yeh, blurry.

The Tropical Terrace...

Red poinsettias arranged in a tree form.

The Silver Garden...

Succulant plants arranged in a star pattern.

Aloes arranged in tree form in The Silver Garden.

And one last look at the stars.

White wreath with blue stars.

The staff and volunteers must work year-round on preparing for Christmas each year. Great work, as usual!

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